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THE BATTLE OVER UFOS .

7896-97: Airship sightings throughout the country-the work of an unknown American inventor, or the product of an alien tech­ nology?

World War II: The "foo-fighters" spotted dur· ing air battles-were they static electricity, enemy secret weapons, or extraterrestrial observers? J950s: The age of the contactees-sane, re· sponsible sky watchers, or irrational people suffering from the delusion that they have been chosen by the "space brothers"? J960s: The Condon Report vs. the UFO or­ ganizations-who's telling the truth? J970s: The scientists join the fray-but which ones have the right theory? Unidentified Flying Objects have been with us long time. Scientists have developed their own pet theories about UFOs. Many people have seen or claimed to see them. And even the Air Force and Congress have investigated the phenomena. Now Professor Jacobs puts all the facts together in one book, revealing the gov­ ernment cover-ups, the work of leading sci­ entists, the activities of the national UFO organizations, and actual cases of UFO sight­ ings, contactee reports, and trace evidence found. Here is the complete truth about a

THE UFO CONTROVERSY IN AMERICA "A publishing landmark . . a book which you should own and which should be in every library in the land."-Fate Magazine •


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This is a n authorized reprint of a ha rdc over edition published by Indiana Univer sity Press. The hardcover edition was pub­ lished simultaneously in Ca na d a by Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, Don Mills, Ontario.

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Contents Foreword

vii

Acknowledgments

XV

Some Words of Explanation 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7.

8. 9. 10.

The Mystery Airship: Preliminaries to the Controversy The Modern Era Begins: Attempts to Reduce the Mystery The 1952 Wave: Efforts to Meet the Crisis The Robertson Panel and Its Effects on Air Force UFO Policy Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

1954 to 1958: Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

The Battle for Congressional Hearings 1965: The Turning Point in the Cont rov ersy

The Condon Committee and Its Aftermath

1973: Echoes of the Past Air Force UFO Statistics

Notes A Note on Sources Selected Bibliography Index

1

3 30 55 78

95

117

140 171

200 235 270 271

307

309 321


Foreword

' ,

L

Scientific controversy has a rich history. And in modern times no co ntroversy in science has had the global extent, the awareness by the public, the display of sci en ti fi c argument and prejudice, the involvement o f the media, and the scientific dilu­ tion of, and gross distraction from, the main issues by religious fanatics, visionaries, and charlatans, as has the phenomenon of the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO). The UFO controversy has a relatively long history, b ut until now this has been only partially and not coherently docu­ mented from about the turn of this century to the present. There is only sporadic documentation in earlier centuries. Indeed, in earlier time s there could hardly be said to have been a contro vers y, although the phenomenon apparently was present. The need of a sober non-partisan compilation and docu­ mentation of the contro versy its el f ari ses precisely because the UFO phenomenon has elicited as strong an emotional and partisan response as any scientific controversy in history. Certainl y it has involved far more people , and on a global basis, than the classic scientific controversies on, say, m eteor­ ites, continental drift, mechanical nature of heat, relativity, and even biological evolution and natural selection. The latter, however, is perhaps the only controversy in which basic emotiona! responses, buttressed by deep-seated religious and per­ sonal prejudice, played so major a role. Indeed, there is an in teres ting anti-parallelism between c ontrov ersy surrounding the theory of biological evolution and that surrounding the UFO phenomenon. In the gradual rise of the concept of biological evolution, there was first the slow acceptance at the top echelons of biological science before these concepts filtered down to the popular levels. It was at these lower l evels , however, where the greatest emotional and surcharged pr ej udicial responses were generated. Human dignity, it seemed to the man on the street, was at stake, as was religious orthodoxy, and the new concepts were stubborn­ ly r esisted and openly comb ated by the "grass roots" very

vii


viii

Foreword

much more than by the scien tific establishment. One has to recall the famous Tennessee "monkey trial" in which the Dar足 winian concepts were ably but unavailingly defended by Clarence Darrow and vehemently opposed by William Jen足 nings Bryan to gauge the extent of rampant emotionalism surrounding the whole subject. With the UFO phenomenon there is a parallel, but one with the opposite sign. Here the phenomenon arose and was re足 ported at the grass roots levels (as in the case of meteorites, as a matter of fact) and it was, in contrast, the highest scientific echelons that generated the emotion al storm against allowing unprejudiced examination of the claimed observations of thou足 sands upon thousands of persons judged sane by conventional standards. One may expect unbridled emotional responses in scientific matter from the untutored public; one is aghast to find it among one's scientific colleagues. One should expect that they, above all, would be conversant with the history of science, which has furnished so many, many examples of violent opposition to new ideas and concepts, opposition which was forced to give way to acceptance in the face of overwhelming evidence. Above all , the ideals of science call for calm and unprejudiced examination of the evidence, duly and properly presented. And therein lies the rub! The UFO evidence has not been properly presented at the Court of Science. The parallel of meteorites comes at on c e to mind. For centuries there had been stories of stories having fallen from the sky. Pe asants reported finding such stones as later they plowed their fields. Why should the French Academy of Science take seriously the untutored peasants' incredible stories of stones having fallen from the skies? Clearly impossible! And by the same token, why should science take seriously incredible stories about strange craft in the sky? Stones don't fall from the sky, and strange craft, exhibiting behaviors totally unknown and not encompassed in modem science, can't exist. One glaring difference: many of the o bservers of the UFO phenomenon have by no means been "untutored peasants." Pr ofessors scientists, air-traffic controllers, engineers, pilots , persons holding elective office as well as truck drivers, farmers, ,

and school children have reported much the same things.

And_


Foreword

ix

as in the case of meteorites, the reports have come from all around the world. But the data on the UFO phenomenon have had to run an insidious gauntlet that the meteorites were spared. Discoveries of meteorite falls did not become the fabric of cultists, pseudo­ religious aberrants; meteorites were not regarded as sent by other-world intelligence bent on helping and reforming the benighted people of the earth. Nobody concocted a story about riding a meteorite to Venus and there meeting glorious "per­ fected humans" who imparted "platitudes in stained glass attitudes." But let it be clearly understood: such UFO associated stories have been relatively few and certainly were not generated by pilots, policemen, air-traffic controllers, and persons holding public office and other highly responsible positions. These were quite clearly generated by persons for whom the concept of ''flying saucers" satisfied some psychological fantasies and peculiar inne r needs. Unfortunately, though few in number, such persons were generally uninhibitedly vocal and insensitive to ridicule; they were given ample press and often generated a cultist following. Meteorites were not so encumbered. Nor was final acceptance of meteorites and of other concepts obstructed by stories generated by misidentification and misperceptions. The untutored in what can be seen in the sky, and those un­ aware of the vagaries of perceptions, are legion. Stimulated by accounts of truly strange sights in the sky or near the ground, and anxious to partake in the excitement, this legion inno­ cently but devastatingly heaped large piles of UFO stories onto the market. Although these were soon revealed for what they were-"unidenti:fied" only to themselves and certainly not to others who could easily identify the source of the mis­ identifications-this all served to muddle the primary issues. It was in this atmosphere of confusion and misinformation that the Condon Committee, the Air Force sponsored group at the University of Colorado headed by the late Dr. Edward Condon, was conceived. It labored long to produce a scientific mouse, and a deformed mouse at that, one with two dissimilar heads; one, the summary of the investigation by Dr. Condon, which summarily dismisses the entire subject as unworthy of scientific attention, and the other, a series of attempts, often agonizing-and unsuccessful in fo ur times out of five-to de-


X

Foreword

vise a natural explanation for the UFO report selected for study. Clearly, the right hand head did not know what the left hand head was doing. It was nonetheless quickly accepted, and with an audible sigh of relief in scientific circles, that Dr. Condon had suc­ ceeded in giving the subject a half-million dollar burial, with unctuous gestures befitting an interment ceremony. But it turns out that the corpse had not even attended the funeral. As am· ply detailed in the last chapter of this book, the UFO phe­ nomenon presented itself to full view in the Fall of 1973, especially in the United States and in France, despite the over­ whelming opinion that the subject had been put to rest by science itself. Once again, it was merely history repeating. How many times before had overcaution and established sci­ ence seemingly buried a disturbing concept! It is interesting to contemplate, had the Condon Committee had the benefit of Dr. Jacobs's comprehensive study of the UFO controversy, how different the final report might have

been.

But we have Dr. Jacobs's work now at hand. It is not my aim here to summarize it-the reader should have the pleasure of having the entire story unfold as he reads-but it is, I be· lieve, both my privilege and duty to say a word about the UFO phenomenon itself, the subject of the controversy. Since it is impossible to treat the controversy without introducing to some extent the subject itsel f, as Dr. Jacobs has of necessity done, I will limit myself to an overview, based primarily on my long acquaintance with the subject. My involvement with UFOs began in 1948 when I became astronomical consultant on ".flying saucers" to the Air Force. In the ensuing years I observed at firsthand both the phenomenon of continued UFO reports and the manner in which it was being treated (mis­ treated would be the better word) by science, the public, and by the Air Force. Just exactly, then, what was and is the UFO phenomenon about which so many words have been spent? First off, a quarter of a century has clearly shown, to all who are willing to look, that after the dross is removed-i.e., accounts from the untutored, the pranksters, and the relatively few but vocal lunatic fringe-there remains a profoundly im­

pressive body of data which can truly be said to constitute a


L

xi

Foreword

new empiri cal set of observations. The onl y possible way to gainsay this is to accuse a veri table host of persons-from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, and adjudged sane and responsible from their personal records--of being crazy or of lying. These are persons whose testimony in a court of law would be unquestioned Now it is quite true t h at these remaining accounts are un­ believable by ordinary stand ards. That is precisely w hy th ey constitute new em piric al evidence, in the same way that me­ teorites once did--or radioactivity, atomic fission, anoma lous motion of the perihelion of Mercury, which the new Theory of Re lativity finally explained. They do r epre sen t something new And that is precisely why they are important. They may signal a whole domain of nature (for intelligence is part of nature) as yet unexplained. Spec ifically what is new ? The reported spo radi c and unpre­ dictable appearance of "craft" by day, and lights (freque_ntly brilliant) and "craft" by nig ht, whose non-random behavior (and thus presumably guided or programmed by intellige nc e) is totally unexplainable by ou r present scientific technology. What sort of behavior? The reported ability to execute tra­ jectories, often but not always silently, that no known man­ made craft coul d generate or follow; the ability to hover, and then to accelerate to high s peed s in period s of the order of seconds (and gener all y without a soni c boom); on occasion to change shape, and to produce durable phys ical effects on both animate and inanimate m at ter ; to be, on oc casion, unmistak­ ably detected on r adar, yet to be peculiarly localized and p re ferenti al in their manifestation (that is, their appearance at times a nd places when and where they would be least likely to be detected, and their avoi dan ce of level flight which would of necessity open them to observ a ti on by people along the way). The pattern in the "close encounter" cases is almost univ er sal : a rapid descent to a landin g or near l an ding a stay of the order of only minutes, and th e ascent, at usuaiiy a high angle, and dis appe arance eith er through distance or by some other means (it is often re porte d that at a hei gh t of a few hun­ dred feet the bright luminosity vanishes). The choice of locale is statistically significant. The close encounter cases simply do not occur on the White House lawn or between halves at the Rose Bowl game, but in de sol ate spots, ge n erally .

.

,


xii

Foreword

some distance from habitation and where detection would be least expected. In a small percent of the close encounter c as es , robot-like or human-like "creat ures " are r eporte d. A growing number of my colle agues and I have been driven, albeit reluctantly, into the bold step of accepting the more­ than-amply reported UFO p henomenon as something that really is new , something not yet encompassed by our present science. There will indeed be a twenty-first century science, and a thirtieth century science, . to which the UFO phenom­ enon may be as natural as t elevision, atomic energy, and DNA are to twentieth century science, as these were quite for eign to eighteenth an d nineteenth century science. In any event, the UFO phenomenon presents us with a fan tastic challenge. Off-the-shelf explanat io ns just won' t do. We've tried these for more than a quarter of a century, and they just don't wash. A ccepance of the UFO as a new empiri­ cal phenomeno n worthy of very serious study is growing not only among scientists, engineers , and technically aware per­ sons, but by educators and the social ly aware and the polit­ ic ally astute. There is a growing recogniti on that here is indeed � something new.

And anything new almost surely creates controversy. The controversy about UFOs has been, however, no ordinary one. It has brought into play a veritable host of human concerns: science and scientific prejudice, human emotions, bureaucratic authority, the press and other media, charlatans, religious fanatics-the list could be extended. Dr. Jacobs's most admirable work has put the UFO contro­ versy into scholarly per spec tive. It is indispensable reading for any who seek an informed view of the tortuous history of the UFO phenomenon. And now that the controve rs y has been ably and fairly presented by Dr. Jacobs, where does that leave the actual subject matter-the UFO phenomenon itself? Where can we logically go from here? Can the controversy be resolved? And more precisely, can it b e resolved by science, or are we in a realm beyond the legitimate concerns of science? One can c erta in ly hold-and I for one do-that nothing that intrigues the mind of man is automatically ineligible for scientific approach. As logic is the basis of all scientific en­ deavor, even the most bizarre subjects can be approached

in a


Foreword

xiii

logical maimer. The methodology may differ from one subject area to another, but not the local substrate. In determining causal relationships, logic demands that we isolate variables and hold as many as possible constant-aU but one ideally­ while the effects of running one variable through its total feasi­ ble range are noted. This has "paid off" in the classical physi­ cal sciences. If the variables are too numerous, as they fre­ quently are in the behavioral sciences, statistical methods prove fruitful. Unfortunately, little has been done in this direction, the Condon Committee notwithstanding. Any school child learns that in science one tests hypotheses. What he generally does not learn is that the hypotheses to be tested must logically follow from, and be suggested by, the data. As Dr. Jacobs indicates, many of the members of the Condon Committee did not apply this stricture. Without once asking what the overall, observed nature of the UFO phenomenon was-which could easily have been learned from a serious survey of a statistically significant number of well documented and truly puzzling cases-they set out to test the hypothesis that UFO's ··were visitors from outer space! And the relatively few cases they examined were studied individually, as though that one case-and only that one-existed. No attempt was made to find patterns, relations between the thousands of cases from all over the world (which were available in copious literature), and then to consider various testable hypotheses. This would be like asking, in times past, whether the Northern Lights represented interstellar communications, and concluding that since the data did not support this hypothesis, the Northern Lights were hallucinations, hoaxes, or sheer imagination. This is clearly not the place to criticize the Condon Report. It is proper, however, to enter a plea for the proper scientific study of the UFO phenomenon and to profit from our mis­ takes. One must first determine, if the controversy is ever to be resolved, whether a legitimate body of data really exists-that is, whether UFO reports, at least in part, represent truly new empirical observations. I am convinced, from my long acquain­ tance with the subject, that they most certainly do. But the majority of scientists still tend to reject this, often on emo­ tional grounds, and in all cases because they forget another


Foreword

xiv

cardinal rule: A scientific opinion demands of the opiner that he be "acquainted with the literature." When the nature of t he UFO controversy is understood­ and thiS book is dedicated to that end-and when the inter­

disciplinary nature of the phenomenon is grasped (no one knows to what discipline the subject belongs simply because not enough yet is known of the subject), a meaningful start can be made on a truly scientific study of the

can

then

be

subject, which as scientific subjects should be prej udice or emotional bias.

approached

approached-without

CENTER FOR UFO STUDIES EVANSTON, ILLINOIS

J. ALLEN HYNEK CHAIRMAN,· DEPT. AsTRONOMY NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY


Acknowledgments I have incurred many debts in the past years as part of this proj ect. I thank William L. O'Neill for originally encouraging me to go forward with this study. I owe my gr eatest academic

debt to Paul K. Conkin, who patient ly oversaw the manu­ script, d iligently corrected its errors, and good-naturedly kept my thoughts on an even keel throughout the writing. His rigor­ ous thinking and sound advice were invaluable in helping me gain a perspective on the UFO contro versy. While I was conducting the res earch, James and Coral Lorenzen and Richard Greenwell at the Aerial Phen omen a Research Organization (Tucson, Arizona) and Stuart Nixon of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenom­ ena ( Ken sin gton, M arylan d) gave encouragement and im­ measurable help by all o win g me c om pl et e use of their or g ani­ zations' files. I am parti cularly grateful to Richard Greenwell for his cogent criticism of the manuscript, and to Betsy McDonald for giving me ac cess to her late husband's files. J. Allen H ynek also allowed me to research his files, an d my discussions with him at North western University filled many gaps in my knowledge of his and the Air F orce 's roles in the UFO controversy. Judy Endicott a nd the staff at the Albert F. Simpson His t orical Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in M on tgomery, Alabama, were especially helpful to me in my research there. I thank Roger Keeran for listening to c ount less rehashin gs of my theorie s and helping me over many rough spots in my writing and ideas. Lynn a nd Charles W. Hi eatt deserve grati­ tude for the friendship and support they gave me during the trying days of writ ing. The debt I owe to Irene D. Jacobs for listening to my ideas, reading and editing my writing, and giving moral support over the past three years is so large that mere acknowledgment becomes absurd in the face of it.

XV


Some Words

of Explanation

Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been a source of continuing controversy. Steeped in ridicule and existing on the fringes of scholarly pursuit, the subject of unidentified flying objects has a history of its own. This involves the Air Force's , efforts for over twenty years to cope with the UFO phenome­ non, the growth of national organizations dedicated to investi­ gating it, and the scientific community's fear or reluctance to study the subject because of the ridicule attached to it. It also involves press coverage of the subject, motion pictures and television shows about it, and the small group of people who have made a living capitalizing on the fantasy aspects of UFOs. The debate over unidentified flying objects in America has been surrounded by emotion, ignorance, misinformation, and, above all, loose thinking. I do not attempt to solve the problem of the origin of the phenomenon. Rather, I try to explain some of the reasons why so many people expended such large amounts of time and energy on it. My focus is on describing and, in part, analyzing societal and individual responses to the appearance of a mysterious phenomenon. There are semantic difficulties inherent in a discussion of unidentified flying objects. No words exist to describe a per­ son who studies the UFO phenomenon, one who believes UFOs do or do not represent an anomalous phenomenon, one who believes UFOs are products of extraterrestrial intelli­ gence, or one who reputably claims to have an experience with a UFO. The lack of precise language prompts people to use the terms flying saucer and unidentified flying object synonymously. They are different. The term flying saucer conveys the idea of objects intelligently controlled and ex­ traterrestrial in origin. The term unidentified flying object denotes just that, an unidentified flying object regardless of speculations about its origin. I have tried to use the two terms in the way that the participants used them. There also is a difference between a UFO sighting and a UFO report. The first is an event that happens to a person, and the second is

1


2

The UFO Controversy in A merica

the description that the person gives of the event. Moreover, there are two types of UFO reports: those that investigators can explain given sufficient information, and those that inves足 tigators and analysts cannot explain even with sufficient in足 formation. Unhappily, these two types of reports do not have different labels, and the context in this study will have to make the meaning clear. Semantic rigor was not a character足 istic of the debate over UFOs. Finally, a word about the time span of this study. The UFO sighting waves dictated my chronology. The first major sightings took place in 1896 and 1 8 97. I had to leap to 1947 {with a short interlude around World War II) because there were no known large-scale sighting waves in America between 1897 and 1947. The sighting waves prompted public reaction. Therefore, the history of the debate coincides with the times when people reported unidentified flying objects in American skies.

: : 1 '


1

THE MYSTERY AIRSHIP: PRELIMINA R IES TO THE CONTROVERSY

Thousands of people in the United States in 1896 and 1897 said they saw airships in the skies over Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Ken­ tucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas , West Virginia, and Wiscon­ sin. The sightings started in California in November 1896 and continued until May 1897, with a break from January to the middle of M arch. The airships appeared most often as dirigible-type ma­ 1 i chines, cylindrical or cigar shaped and driven by a motor •

·

1

attached to an air screw or propeller.! When witnesses said they saw an airship, they implicitly differentiated between it and a glider or a heavier-than-air "flying machine. " Also, most people distinguished between an airship and a balloon, which was definitely round and had a basket attached to it.

They expressed a popular belief that the solution to aerial navigation would be through an airship rather than heavier­ than-air flying machines, which had not yet assumed the im­ portance in the popular imagination that they would after the Wright brothers' experiments in 1903. Consequently, many of the early designs for the "machine that would conquer the air" looked like dirigibles with a passenger car on the bot­ tom. Descriptions of the ob j ects varied greatly, either because the witnesses were inaccurate or because they viewed dif­ ferent airships. In Omaha, Nebraska, an airship sighting interrupted a Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben initiation ceremony. According to the excited witnesses, the object was "at least eighteen inches in diameter, the reflection from which passed

3


I along what appeared to be a steel body, the length of which 1 ; could only be estimated

4

The UFO Controversy in A merica

at from twelve to thirty feet." In · Chicago, on April 10 , 1897, the Chicago Tribune reported that people observed a slender object, seventy feet long with approximately twenty-foot wide structures resembling wings or sails just above the body. In Mount Carroll, lllinois, witnesses described an airship eight to ten feet long and two or three feet high. "A dim outline of it could be seen, which appeared to be shaped like an egg," in Wausau, Wisconsin. An airship over Dallas, Texas, was "in a luminous, hazy cloud" and had "sails or wings outstretched on both sides of its cigar-shaped body"; "on both ends," the report said, "there · were large rotating fans projecting from the sails at an angle . of about 45 degrees, the one in front being elevated, while the one at the rear was depressed, somewhat resembling the body of a bird." Witnesses estimated its length to be about two hundred feet. In Fort Worth, Texas, an airship looked, like a sixty-foot long "passenger coach," pointed at the ends . and with batlike wings.2 Witnesses repeatedly reported lights on the object, usually the first indication of an approaching airship. Colored or bright white lights plus an intense red or white searchlight were the most common features of the airship descriptions. In Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, "the white light ahead and a ' red light at the rear made the affair look like a machine about fifty feet long and flying about 500 feet above the earth." The Benton Harbor, Michigan, airship had blue, red, and green lights. Occasionally the searchlight on the airship was so brilliant that, for example, when it appeared in Everest, Kansas, at 9:05 P.M., the "full power of the wonder­ ful lamps were turned on, and the city was flooded with light." Often the unusual color of the white searchlight made it seem ' phosphorescent. Sometimes the lights came from the side of the ship and moved independently of it. As thousands of gaping spectators watched in Milwaukee, ''the machine, or whatever it was," hovered directly over the city hall and the lights on it moved backward and forward� "as if signalling to the earth." In Guthrie, Oklahoma, "its outlines were indis­ tinct, but a light was thrown out from the front and at times there were flashes of light from the sides." Frank Dickson, editor of the Edna (Texas) Progress, saw two airships "400 feet apart communicating with each other by means of red and green lights. "3 The airships movements ranged from erratic to smooth. In

·

.

·

1


·

The Mystery A irship

. ·

1

5

Guthrie, Oklahoma, the object "sank almost to the ground just north of the city, and then rose straight into the air at great speed and disappeared in the darkness of the night." Often the airships "bounced" or "undulated" due, people speculated, to the flapping of "wings." For late nineteenthcentury American, an airship's ability to maneuver against the wind proved that it was under control. A dispatch from Nashville, lllinois, pointed out that "the fact that the object traveled from the northwest while the wind was from the southwest goes to prove it was not a b alloon."• Like all other aspects of the airships, reported speeds varied greatly, from as slow as 5 miles per hour to as fast as 200 miles per hour. Occasionally witnesses made more accu­ rate measurements of an airship's speed. A railroad engineer from Burlington, Iowa, estimated an airship's speed at 150 miles per hour by comparing it to h is train's speed. But most people could not make such estimates and simply reported that an airship traveled slowly or "at a terrific rate of speed."5 Sometimes people heard noises emanating from a sighted object. In Burlington, Iowa, witnesses heard a "hissing sound," in Decatur, Michigan, a "sharp, crackling sound," and in Cameron, Texas, a "humming" noise. In general, though, either the objects made no sounds or no one heard

them.s All the reports indicate that more than one object was being sighted, both because of simultaneous or almost simul. taneous �ightings and because of the differences in perceived details. Nevertheless, people found it difficult to accept the idea of many airships. The Chicago Times-Herald reported, for example, that "the 'air ship' has been seen again-that is, . in this v icinity. To be sure , it was also seen in Kankakee, Mount Carroll and other places at the same time, but the . people in these cities must h ave b een m istaken-or else there is a whole flock of air ships cavorting about through the heavens. The real 'air ship' [is] the one that was seen here." Another reporter, trying to explain how witnesses could re, port an airship in two different places in a short p eriod of time, theorized that it was "speedy" and "covers vast areas of ground." Once in a while e ither an airship would return to the area or another airship would appear there: a sensation ensued in Middleville, Michigan, when citizens sighted an air­ ship flying north at 9:00 P.M. and another one flying east at 10: 3 0 P.M.7


6

The UFO Controversy in A merica

Often witnesses reported hearing sounds as an airship passed over them at low altitude. Citizens in Sacramento heard voices coming from an airship; others claimed to have heard music, and one man said he heard someone on board say "go up higher, or collide with the church steeples, etc." In Farmerville, Texas, and Galesburg, Michigan, witnesses heard voices but could not understand them. "Sweet strains of music could be heard" in Fontanelle, Iowa, as well as "the workings of its machinery." Observers in Belton, Texas, heard the "passengers' " voices but could not understand them "on account of the velocity" of the craft.s From time to time people said that items, usually letters, dropped from the airships. The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that several letters, fastened to iron rods that were rusted from the rain, purportedly dropped from an airship as it passed overhead: "The suspicion that the letters were 'planted' was not apparently well founded, for no hardware dealers in this vicinity have sold any such rods as the letters were wired to." The letter supposedly stated that the airship

Pegasus, traveling from Tennessee to South Dakota, used steam for propulsion and could carry as much as a thousand pounds; the airship, the note maintained, would "revolution足 ize all present methods of locomotion." The letter did not dis足 close the inventor's identity but asked the "finder" to keep the note until a member of the Masonic fraternity called for it. Citizens in Newport, Kentucky, also found a letter describing an airship's traveling speed (forty miles per hour) and other details; "Captain Pegasus" had signed the note. In Dupont and Lorain, Ohio, people supposedly found similar notes.9 Occasionaly witnesses reported seeing occupants on board or near an airship on the ground. In Lovelady, Texas, one ' witness saw an object resembling a moving man in the air足 ship's lower part. Several people in Girard, lllinois, who ar足 rived at a landing spot after they had seen an airship rise and "disappear," found footprints which did not lead anywhere. "It was evident that they were made by someone who had jumped out of the ship to repair some of the machinery on the outside." In Belle Plaine, Iowa, on April 15, 1897, airship witnesses reported seeing "two queer looking persons on board, who made desperate efforts to conceal themselves"; the witnesses said the occupants "had the longest whiskers they ever saw in their lives." Some people in Belton, TeJras, "distinctly" saw ten passengers on board an object. Witnesses

in Sacramento reported seeing a cigar-shaped machine "op-


The Mystery A irship

1

',

, ,

1

erated by four men who sat aside the cigar and moved as though they were working their passage on a bicycle." In Cle­ burne, Texas, a man who claimed that "he had not touched a drop of anything except water during the evening" saw an airship speed by "just above the tops of the houses" with a passenger in it. "The passenger gave him the go-ahead sign that brakemen give on the railroad." Once in a while witnesses saw animals as well. The city marshal of Farmer­ ville, Texas, said that when the object passed over him at about two hundred feet he could "see two men in the ship and something resembling a large Newfoundland dog." He also reported hearing the occupants talk, although he could not understand the language, which sounded like Spanish.10 Clearly the strangest occurrence in these 1896-97 sightings was the reported contacts between witnesses and airship occu­ pants. These frequent reports substantially influenced the thought of the period about what the airships were and who was responsible for them. Sometimes the contact reports were so sketchy that it is difficult to ascertain exactly what hap­ pened, if anything did indeed happen. For example, a report from Downs Township, illinois, simply said that "while [the witness] was at work in a field, an airship alighted near him and six people disembarked therefrom, remained a few minutes and conversed with him, and then jumped aboard, ascended and sailed away." The Harrisburg (Arkansas) Mo d­ ern News reported that ex-senator Harris (of that state) en­ countered an airship and occupant who said he had a special "Hotchkiss" gun on board and was thinking of going to Cuba to "kill Spaniards"; he offered Senator Harris a ride which the senator refused. One of the earliest claims of a detailed contact occurred in California in 1896. The witness told the San Francisco Call that, while searching in the woods for a deer, he had come across six men working on an almost com­ •

:

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pleted airship who swore him to secrecy; but now that he was sure this was the airship people had seen, the witness said, he 1 would give a detailed description of the encounter.n : In 1897 witnesses reported a whole series of contacts with : people making repairs on their airships. Several "presumably truthful" citizens of Chattanooga, Tennessee, said they "came upon the vessel resting on a spur of a mountain near this city. Two men were at work on it and explained that they had been compelled to return to earth because the machinery was out of order. One of the men said his name was 'Prof. Charles Davidson.' He is alleged to have said that the vessel

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

left Sacramento a month ago and had been sailing all over the country. "12 John M. Barclay in Rockland, Texas, saw something that "made his eyes bulge out." Hearing a whining noise on his farm and the dogs "barking furiously," he grabbed his rifle and went outside to investigate; he immediately noticed an airship circling his farm and then saw it land in a pasture next to his house. When he was about 150 feet from the ship, "an ordinary mortal" met him and told him to lay his gun aside because no harm was intended ; the occupants wanted lubricating oil, chisels, and a bluestone, for which they paid him. When Barclay tried to inspect the airship, one occupant

prevented him from going near it but told him that someday they would return and take him for a ride. The airship, Bar- ' clay said, took off "like a shot out of a gun."lS In Stephenville, Texas, some of the most prominent men in the community-including a judge, a state senator, and a dis足 trict attorney-saw an airship which the occupants were re足 pairing. One witness spoke to two of the airship passengers, who gave their names as S. E. Tilman and A. E. Dolbear; they refused to allow the witness to come near the airship but explained that New York "capitalists" were financing them and that air navigation shortly would be an established fact. Then they boarded the ship and, "bidding adieu to the aston足 ished crowd assembled," sailed away.lf Some people who claimed to see occupants with the air- I ships reported coming across them in secluded places. Judge Love and his friend, Mr. Beatty, were fishing near Waxachie, Texas, when Beatty (while going upstream for a better fishing spot) discovered a "queer looking machine" in the woods and a group of "five peculiarly dressed men" near it. One of the men, who spoke "fairly good English," explained this was one of the famous airships and invited the witnesses to examine it. The man told them the airship came from "regions in the north pole" since, "contrary to popular belief, there is a

large body of land beyond the polar seas." He explained that his people descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel and had been living in this inhabitable land for centuries; the people spoke English because Sir Hugh Willoughby's 1553 North Pole Expedition party (which supposedly was lost) and United States raiding parties had been stranded there and taught them the language. They were forced to build airships, the leader said, because they did not have timber for locomo足 tives or sea ships. Now twenty airships were sailing around

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9

the United States and Europe, he expl ained , and all would meet on June 1 8 and 1 9 at the Tennessee Centennial Exposi­ tion where anyone could inspect them. Judge Love said good-bye to the occupants, - and "We then shook hands with the crew and they stepped into their ship, rose in the air and started toward Waco. The description of the ship I have given you is a very meager one, but you can all go to the Nashville Exposition June 1 8 and 1 9 and see for yourselves."15 Similarly, when C. G. Williams walked across a field in Greenville, Texas, a light suddenly "frightened [him] almost out of his senses." An airship had landed near him and three men came out of it, two of whom started to work on the "rigging" of the ship. As Williams began to write down what was happening, the third man interceded : "See here, young man, don't give this thing away. We are experimenting We expect to revolutionize travel and with this vessel. transportation." The visitor explained that he h ad been ex­ •

perimenting with flight in a little town in New York State. He and the other two men had intended originally to take a short trip, but the flight went so well th at they decided to keep going and soon found themselves over Indiana; they were returning home in a few days to make some improve: ments on the ship. They used electricity to get the airship off the ground and wind power ( to tum the large wheel in front of the airship ) once in the air, the visitor said. He predicted that in a short while people would hear from him and there would be a "full description of the modem wonder, the

airship." The visitor said that if Williams would mail some letters for him, without copying the addresses, in return the

visitors would come back and take him on a ride to South America.lo

Perhaps the most b affi ing of all contact stories concerned a man named Wilson. The first incident occurred in Beaumont, Texas, on April 1 9 , 1 897. J. B. Ligon (local agent for the

Magnolia Brewery) and his son Charles noticed lights in the Johnson pasture a few hundred yards away and went to in­ vestigate. They came upon four men standing beside a large, dark object; one man asked Ligon for two buckets of water. Ligon consented and then questioned one of the men, who said his name was Wilson. The man explained that he and his companions were traveling in a flying machine; they had taken a trip "out on the gulf' and were returning to a "quiet Iowa town" where the airship and four others like it had been


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The UFO Co n troversy in A merica

m ade. Wilson explained that electricity powered the propel­ lers and wings.U The next day, April 20, Sheriff H. W. Baylor of Uvalde, Texas, went to investigate a strange light and voices in back of his house and encountered an airship and three men. One of the men gave his name as Wilson from Goshen, New York. Wilson inquired about C. C. Akers, former sheriff of Zavalia County, whom Wilson said he had met in Fort Worth in 1 877 and wanted to see again. The surprised Sheriff B aylor replied that Captain Akers was now at Eagle Pass in the cus­ toms service and that he often visited him. Wilson, somewhat disappointed, "asked to be remembered to the captain on the occasion of his next visit." The men from the airship wanted water and requested their visit be kept secret from the towns­ people. Then they boarded the airship, and ''its great wings and fans were set in motion and it sped away northward in the direction of San Angelo." The county clerk also s aw it as it left the area. One week later ( on April 27) the Galveston Daily News printed a letter from C. C. Akers, who s aid he had indeed known a man in Fort Worth named Wilson, who was from New York, educated, and about twenty-four years old. Akers said Wilson "was of a mechanical tum of mind and was then working on aerial navigation and something that would astonish the world"; Wilson, Akers theorized, seemed to have enough money to work on his inventions, and "having succeeded in constructing a practical airship, would prob ably hunt me up to show me that he was not so wild in his claims as I then supposed . " Akers concluded by saying : "I have known Sheriff B aylor many years and know that any statement he may make can be relied on as exactly correct." The next reported incident with a man named Wilson o c­ curred in Kountze, Texas, on April 2 3 . An April 25 article in the Houston Post s aid that two "responsible men" observed an airship which had descended for repairs ; the occupants on board gave their names as Wilson and Jackson.ts The Houston Post published an account of an incident that purportedly occurred in Josserand, Texas, on April 22, and that was similar to the Wilson incidents, although the name was not mentioned specifically. A whirring sound awakened Frank Nichols, a prominent farmer, who looked out his win­ dow to find "brilliant lights streaming from a ponderous vessel of strange proportions" in his cornfield. "With all the bravery of Priam at the siege of Troy," Nichols went outside to investigate. Before he could get to the object, two men ac-


The Mystery A irship

11

costed him and asked for some water from hi s well : "Th ink­ ing he might be entertaining heavenly visitants instead of earthly mortals permission was readily granted." The men in­ vited Nichols to visit the ship, where he talked freely with the crew of six or eight individuals. Although "in h is short inter­ view he could gain no knowledg e of its [the airship's] work­ ing," crew members told him that th e sh ip's motive power was "highly conden s ed el ectricity. " This airsh ip was one of five that they had built in a sm all town in Iowa with the backing of an immense stock company. The Houston Post ar­ ticle concluded by s aying : "Mr. Nichols lives at Josserand, Trinity County, Tex as, and will convince any credulous [sic] one by showing the place where the ship rested."19 The last reported sighting that might involve a man named Wilson-because ot ' its similarities with the other Wilson sto­ ri e s-occurre d in Deadwood, Texas. In its April 30 edition, the Houston Post p ubl ished a letter d e scribing the event. At about 8 : 30 P.M., H. C. Lagrone heard his horses, which were

"old gentle stock, snorting, running and bucking around like a drove of bronchos on a regular s tampe d e . " Going out to see what was happening, he saw a bright white light cir­ cling around the fields nearby and illuminating the entire area; eventually the li ght descended and land ed in a field. La­ grone thought this might be the much publicized airship and went to the landing spot. He found a crew of five men, three of whom entertained him while two others went for water with rubber bags. The men informed him that this ship was one of five that had been flying around the country recently and was the same one that had landed in B e aumont a few days before; these ships were "put up" in an interior town in lllinoi s . But the men were rel uctant to say anything about the inne r workings of the ship because "they had not yet secured anything by p atent. " They did say they expected to set up a factory in St. Louis and "at once enter into active competi­ tion with the r ail road s for p a ss enge r traffic." The crew, La­ grone noted, "was careful not to fo rget earthly things ev en though traveli ng in th e heavens. They were well supplied with edibles of all sorts-likewis e drinkables ; had a good supply of beer and champagne, also had a full su pply of musical in­ struments." Lagrone also reported a curious · sidelight to this sighting : the airship passed close to a religious camp meeting and some of th e participants who saw the craft "went into paroxysms of alarm" whil e others thought it was a messenger from God.2o .

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

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Perhaps the most famous occupant incident during the 1 896-97 wave of sightings took place in Leroy, Kansas, on or about April 1 9 , 1 8 97. Alexander Hamilton, his son Wall, and his tenant Gid awoke to cattle noises. Going outside they dis­ covered-to Hamilton's "utter amazement"-"an airship slowly descending over my cow lot about forty rods from the house." The cigar-shaped object was three hundred feet long with a carriage made of "panels of glass or other transparent substance alternating with a narrow strip of some other material"; a large searchlight and smaller red and green lights were attached to it. As it desceaded to thirty feet above ground and the witnesses came to within fifty yards of it, Hamil­ ton could see "six of the strangest beings I ever saw" inside. The occupants were "jabbering" but Hamilton could not un­ derstand anything. Then the witnesses noticed that a heifer was attached to a ted "cable" emanating from the airship and also was caught in a fence. Unable to free the heifer, the witnesses cut the fence and "stood in amazement to see ship, cow and all rise slowly and sail off." The next day a neighbor recovered the calf's hide, legs, and head a few miles away .2 1 Hamilton was deeply affected and complained that when he tried to sleep he "would see the cursed thing with its big lights and hideous people." Distressed by the incident, Hamil­ ton later said, "I don't know whether they are devils or angels or what but we all saw them and my whole family saw the ship and I don't want any more to do with them." The news­ paper that carried Hamilton's account also printed an affi­ davit from eleven prominent community members, such as the postmaster, sheriff, justice of the peace, banker; it said they had known Hamilton "from 15 to 30 years" and "be­ lieve his statement to be true and correct." Eight days later a similar affidavit appeared in the Burlington ( Kansas ) Daily News. 2 2

All

these varied reports of occupants agreed on one detail :

each described them as ordinary human beings and not as creatures from another world. These descriptions played a major role in molding contemporary thought about the air­ ship . The public seemed convinced that if an airship existed, a secret inventor, perhaps named Wilson, must have made it. This is how the public thought an airship would probably be developed.

The rbove reports, from seemingly reliable witnesses, C?Il• trast sl;tarply with several apparent hoaxes perpetrated dunng the period, generally to demonstrate that the entire airship

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The Mystery A irship

13

wave was a lot of nonsense. Excited witnesses usually ex­ posed these hoaxes immediately. First recorded was the April 5, 1 897, hoax in Omaha, Ne' braska. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, two men sent up a ball o on with a basket of burning shavings attached to it, and the wind carried the balloon over the center of the city-hence the solution to the airship mystery. Five days later the D es Moines Leader reported a hoax in Burlington, Iowa : the hoaxers sent a tissue paper balloon up over the city and, as the Leader said, people called the local newspaper of­ fice swearing they had seen the airship complete with red and green lights; one reputable citizen swore he heard voices. This convinced the newspaper that "the Nebraska-Iowa-Tilinois air­ ship is a pure fake." A more elaborate hoax took place in ' Waterloo, Iowa, where several men secretly constructed a thirty-six-foot canvas and wood airship, complete with "com­ pressors and generators." They guarded it, allowing no one "to inspect the machinery, and any attempt to cross the rope fence . . . was met with an order to stay out." The airship "operators" told the five thousand visitors about. how they had come from San Francisco and how they had landed. When the "crew" said that "one man had fallen overboard just before landing," some of the distraught citizens organized a party to search the river for him; they they "discovered that the entire affair was a joke." Hoaxes also occurred in Chi­ cago, in Fond du Lac and Portage, Wisconsin, in Muncie, In­ diana, and in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course, none of the hoaxes-being hoaxes-flew.2a Enterprising reporters perpetrated many journalistic hoaxes. These generally are easy to identify because of their tongue-in-cheek tone, with an accent on the sensational. Yet because so many of the legitimate stories were fantastic, some of the journalistic hoaxes appear equally convincing. The Dallas Morn ing News printed a story that may have been a hoax. It supposedly took place in Aurora, Texas, on April 1 7 , 1 897. "Early risers of Aurora," the writer said, "were aston­ ished" at seeing an airship "traveling due north, and much nearer the earth than ever before." It seemed that the "machinery was out of order" because it was traveling slowly and descending. "It sailed directly over the public square," the article said, and then "collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces with a terrific ex­ plosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wreck­ ing the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's


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The UFO Controversy i n A merica

flower garden." Although the body of the one occupant was "badly d isfigured, enough h as been picked up to show that •

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he was not an inhabitant of this world" ; in fact, a Un ited States signal service officer, an astronomy expert, said "he was a native of the planet Mars." Moreover, some papers the occupant had "are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and can not be deciphered . " Since the ship was wrecked, the writer explained, it was not possible "to form any conclusion

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as to its construction or motive power. It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and it must have weighed several tons." The l ast sentence in the article was : "The pilot's funeral will take place at noon tomorrow."24 This report contains many elements found in other sight­ ings of the period : a ship flying over a town, evidence point­ ing to Mars as the home of the occupant, the opinion of an "expert," unknown metal. And although the collision itself seems somewhat strange, especially the reference to the flower garden, some of the sincere sightings were just as strange. Nevertheless, a 1 9 6 6 follow-up investigation seemed to substantiate the hoax theory. There was a Judge Proctor living in the Aurora area, but "that is the only part of the story that anyone recognized. Two life-long residents of the Aurora area-Miss Mag Morris and Mrs. Lou Inman ( 8 8 and 93 respectively) -scoffed a t the story."21i I n 1 97 3 UFO researchers resurrected this story and claimed to have circum­ stantial evidence that the event took place. However, they failed to establish its authenticity. In contrast to this story, other literary hoaxes were much less subtle, the author pur­ posely giving himself away by saying-in the last line-that he was writing from an insane asylum (or something to that e ffect ) . 1', ' Concurrent with these hoaxes, numerous people around the country claimed to be the airship's secret inventor. The first identified himself during the Sacramento-San Francisco 1 8 9 6 sightings. The Sacramento Daily Record-Union reported that Mr. Collins, a prominent attorney, claimed that the air­ ship's inventor was one of his clients whom he could not name because of a pledge of secrecy. The client was a wealthy man who, after studying flying machines for fifteen years, came to California from Maine to get away from the prying eyes of other inventors, and had spent at least $ 100,000 on his inven­ tion, for which he had applied for a p atent. He kept his iden­ tity secret because he feared that someone might steal his �

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The Mystery A irship

15

patent if people knew his machine worked. According to the newspaper, the attorney claimed to have seen the machine on the ground and in flight. The next day the Sacramento Daily Record- Union printed a retraction of Attorney Collins's state­ ment, explaining that the San Francisco Bulletin had tracked ' down Collins's client, the alleged inventor of the airship, who was only a wealthy dentist. The article reported that Collins denied making any statement about knowing the airship's in­ ventor but did admit that a man had come to him with a patent for an airship and wanted the attorney to represent him in this matter. Collins's client seems to have had nothing to do with an airship other than making arrangements for patent plans.26 Five months later, on April 1 2, 1 897, the Chicago Tribune · reported that "A. C. Clinton" bad written to the directors of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition (to be held in Omaha, Ne­ braska) claim ing to be the inventor of the airship. Clinton said he would prove it in Omaha if the exposition directors would give him 870,000 square feet of space. "I truly believe I have the greatest invention and discovery ever made," he proclaimed. A few days later Clinton A. Case wrote a similar letter to the Omaha newspaper. It soon became obvious that A. C. Clinton and Clinton A. Case were the same person. Case, a violin maker in Omaha, claimed to have discovered the secret of aerial navigation and declared be was the man who had been sailing about the sky recently. Aerial pioneer Henry Maxim saw Case's plan and said it represented noth­ ing new in the field. Case had tried to get capital for his invention before 1 896 but no one would invest. There is no evidence that Clinton A. Case ever built an airship and he was not granted the land he requested at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. 27 On April 1 9 , 1 897, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Harry Tibb s claimed to be the inventor of the mysterious airship, which needed only a bit more work before it was ready for flight. Tibbs supposedly was a studious man inter­ ested in engineering and had been conducting research on an airship for some time. A while after this rep ort, a friend of Tibbs purportedly received a letter from him saying that the airship was a success : he had made a voyage in it from Cin­ cinnati to Erie, Pennsylvania, and "it works like a charm." Tibbs's description of the ship was similar to those many witnesses had made. Tibbs explained that he was keeping his


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

invention a secret because he was afraid someone would copy his idea and beat him to Washington.2s Sometimes a n enterprising reporter, in an effort to solve the airship mystery, would "find" the inventor. An article in the Detroit Free Press called John 0. Pries of Omaha the secret inventor, although Pries vigorously denied the story. The reporter's proof was that witnesses had seen an airship hover over Pries's house on two different occasions and that Pries had made small models and drawings of airships as a hobby.29

In addition to the mystery inventor claims, some people de­ clared that they had taken photographs of an airship. Walter McCann took a widely publicized photograph in Rogers Park ( Chicago ) while three other men witnessed the event and nu­ merous people said they saw an airship in the vicinity. The Chicago Times-Herald printed a pen and ink etching of the photograph and an etcher's "expert" analysis. The etcher, who apparently knew something about photographic analysis, conducted chemical tests to see if anyone had tampered with the print. His results showed the photograph to be a good print, "genuine in every particular," and "a mighty fine piece of photographic work at that." But on that same day the Chi­ cago Tribune announced that the supposed photograph of an airship was a fake. An "expert photographer" examined the photograph and said it had a "perspective impossibil ity'' be­ cause "no camera could have caught so much within the scope of its lenses." Moreover, the Chicago Tribune noted that a man appeared in the picture who seemed to have his arms outstretched and a camera in them, as if he was taking the picture of the airship. "This suggests," the Chicago Tribune said, "the thought that perhaps this wonderful Kodak takes pictures o f itself and its manipulator as well as of air ships." Yet the picture published in the Chicago Times-Her­ ald did not show a camera in the man's hands. so There were other reports of photographs, but no one veri­ fied their authenticity. The Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, hostile to the idea of an airship, took a fake picture of one to demonstrate that people could be misled and to suggest that everybody who thought he saw the object was fooled .31 The debate over the authenticity of the Rogers Park photo­ graph demonstrates the intense public interest in airship sightings, especially among people who had already seen an airship and those who wanted to see one. Indeed, excitement was so great that reporter after reporter saw fit to describe it.

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The Mystery A irship

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reporter for the D e troit Free Press said "the section of Iowa where the ship has been seen is fairly crazy with excite­ ment. People throng the streets of all the towns and villages in hopes of catching a glimpse of it, and the telegraph wires 1 are hot with messages about it." In Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago the airship was "the sole topic of conversation," as it was in many other cities and towns where it supposedly had ' been; in fact, some people stayed up all night hoping to get a glimpse of the aerial wonder. After an airship had passed over Kansas City, Missouri, "hundreds of people [were] still on the streets watching intently for a return of the airship." "Expectation ran high" among people in Milwaukee who gathered in the streets when they heard an airship was com­ ing toward their city; any flash of light, such as from trolley poles of street cars, drew exclamations of wonder from the knots of citizens clustered in the streets. A St. Louis Post­ Dispatch reporter interviewed people arriving by train in Mil­ waukee from· the north and northwest areas of the state and found that "the airship was the one topic of conversation in the region through which they passed." In Chicago the tradi­ tional greeting of hello was replaced with "Have you seen the airship?"32 For people who saw an airship at close range or who had encounters with one, their exictement was mixed with fear and terror. A man in Richmond, Texas, who saw an airship ran terrified into his house. An airship's appearance in : Springfield, Tennessee, caused the witnesses to be "non­ ! plussed," and some people in the area were "overcome with I abject terror. Many of them shouted and prayed as if they i thought the millennium was at hand." In Paris, Texas, one man fell down on his knees upon seeing an airship and prayed for his and his family's safety; he said the airship was actually "the return of Noah's ark with wing-like attachments on its way toward the Mississippi bottoms, its mission being to save [his people] from the perils of the overflow in that section." In Hill sboro, Texas, a lawyer was driving his horse and buggy when he saw a brilliant flash of white light directly over his buggy; the light "frightened [him] to death." His horse also was frightened and "snorted, reared, and plunged madly, trembling meantime like a leaf."33 Colonel Peoples of Cameron, Texas, was out in the field with his forty convict-workers, a newspaper article reported, when a "very low" aerial "monster" suddenly appeared over the field. The object seemed to be in trouble; there was "great

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

commotion" on board the ship and "many apparent signals were given with strange-colored banners or flags. Strange streamers or streaks of peculiar, dazzling white lights seemed to shoot up to the sky from aboard this strange craft." Even­ tually the object took off and the convicts thought that "evil days had drawn nigh" and their "day of deliverance had come." The article said this strange story ''was given in good faith to the [Dallas Morning] News reporter and is vouched for by all the men on Col. Peoples' plantation."34 Airship witnesses were so certain of the reality of their ex­ perience that many were vociferous in opposing the pre­ vailing scientific skepticism about the phenomenon. An article in the Chicago Times-Herald said people who had seen the airship ''were ready to debate the matter without fear of being ridiculed, and their opinions were coolly arrived at." In reaction to the theory that the supposed airship was a star, R. W. Allen, a pharmacist, sitid he was ''willing to take the con­ sequences of expressing the opinion" that the star theory was wrong. He claimed that he and six other men bad observed the object's movements carefully and "no star ever acted in the manner displayed by the lights we saw." The object undu­ lated with the regularity of a "pulse beat" ; it had red, green, and white lights on it and flew rapidly toward the northwest. An airship witness in Milwaukee charged that "anyone who claims that the thing I saw floating over the city hall is a star. simply don't know what he is talking about."BII On the other hand, other witnesses feared public ridicule so much that reporters began to stress the witnesses' reliability and truthfulness : in Belle Plaine, Iowa, a ''reputable physi­ cian" s aw the spectacle; in Fort . Atkinson, Wisconsin, "repu­ table citizens" watched the obj ect ; in Mount Carroll, Tilinois, "persons whose honest and truthfulness are beyond dispute" " observed an airship; in Denton, Texas, two "credible witnesses" s aw the object and one witness was a woman ''whose reputation for truthfulness can not be assailed." A man who reported sighting an airship over Evanston, Tilinois, said he ''was afraid of being laughed at and declined to give his name." A Chicago Tribune article about this sighting said "many reliable people" claimed to have seen the mysterious ' airship. Witnesses who saw an airship in Omaha were careful 1 to give their full names to the newspapers to emphasize their reliability. In Brenham, Texas, the newspaper took an offen- 1 sive stance when it published Mr. John R. Pennington's re­ port. The article said people could tell airship stories all day


The Mystery A irship

19

and "the public would scarcely pause t o hear them, much less to give the story more than a passing thought, but Mr. John Pennington is a m an of unquestionable integrity and not in the habit of talking to hear himself talk."36 It was indeed necessary for the public and especially witnesses to be concerned about their reputations in light of what many scientists and other professional people said about the sightings. In 1 89 6 the famed aviation pioneer Octave Chanute, who was working on an airship of his own, said he ' did not have the patience to read the full account of the Cali­ : fomia airship because of its "absurdities." He was certain , about the eventual mastery of air travel but did not expect "one fortunate achievement" to solve the complex problem. He was confident that the airship reports would not fool the public. Unknown to · Chanute, Attorney Max. L. Hosmar, secretary of the Chicago Aeronautical Association, seemed to have the complete explanation for an airship sighted in Chi­ cago : he announced that Chanute invented it and had gone to California to oversee a test flight from San Francisco to Chicago. The Aeronautical Association planned to give Chanute and his crew a reception when they arrived, but the airship came sooner than expected because "conditions" must I have been "extremely favorable." The next day Hosmar had second thoughts about his initial solution because it seemed impossible for Chanute to arrive so soon, "scarcely three , weeks since the journey was begun." Hosmar revised his statement, saying Chanute's airship was someplace between . San Francisco and the Rocky Mountains. 87 Chanute's airship did not arrive in Chicago; in fact, it never left the ground in San Francisco. Scientific opinion about the cause of the mysterious objects in the sky was divided. Professor Rigge, an astronomer of Creighton College, thought the first airship seen· in Omaha ( was the planet Venus; it was impossible that an undetected 1 "fellow in the back woods" could invent an airship when air researchers had been trying unsuccessfully for years. Profes­ sor G. W. Hough of the Dearborn Observatory (in Evanston, lllinois) watched an airship-like object with a telescope and I declared it was the star Alpha Orionis, which people could : see with the naked eye usually around 8 : 00 P.M. The star, at its brightest, "resembles a ball of fire," and the atmosphere 1 made the star's rays change from white to red to green. The next day the Chicago Tribune criticized Professor Hough's theory: it "is open to the suspicion of professional jealousy

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

.,

I

On the part 0� a man WhO does not like Other people tO see ' I things in his realm that he does not see." Hough immediately 1 1 issued another statement explaining that the star Alpha : ! Orionis has been "roaming through its regular course in the : firmament 10,000,000 ye ars , and why it should have been : i settled upon in the last three weeks and pointed out as the 1 headlight of a mysterious aerial vessel is hard to explain. "38 Astronomer Arthur C. Lunn of Lawrence University, who claimed to have observed the phenomenon personally, explained that it was not an airship but the star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion; he told how atmospheric conditions contributed to the illusion that the object changed colors and I bobbed up and down. Professor G. C. Comstock of the University of Wisconsin's Washburn Observatory generally . agreed; the brightest stars in the sky were Jupiter, Venus , and Sirius, he said, any of which could be mistaken for an airship.a9 Professor Henry S. Pritchett of Washington University (in St. Louis) took a more cautious approach. At first he placed;, I little stock in the airship stories, he said ; but due to corrobo­ rative evidence, he now was inclined to treat the matter seriously and believed " something unusual has been seen in the heavens." He joined the Chicago Tribune in criticizing i Hough's star theory: Venus was the b right star, not Alpha Orionis, and witnesses had seen the obj ect on cloudy nights. However, Pritchett could not identify the object. He first thought it was a b all o on but changed his mind because the 1 object did not have the ch aracteristics of a balloon. He did think it was p ossible that a secret inventor had developed an airship and he said that scientists at Washington Univers ity were going to try to solve the problem. 40 Professor M. S. Koenig, identifi ed only as an electrician from New York stated that he knew a former workman in 1 one of Edison's laboratories who had discovered a way to overcome the laws of gravity. At last report this person was living in San Francisco and working on an airship. "Of course this sound s remarkable," Koenig said , "but if there is ' an airship prowling above the clouds, I firmly bel i eve it is en­ gineered in some such manner." Apparently someone used Koenig's statement to fashion a hoax. Citizens of Astoria, illi­ nois , discovered some letters supposedly dropped from an air· ship. One letter was addressed to "Edison" and was signed ''C. L. Harris, electrician airship No. 3." Edison took this op­ portunity to comment publicly on the airship sightings. He 1

I

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1

I ·

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The Mystery A irship

21

declared the letter a "pure fake" and said be had never heard of C. L Harris. Scientists would probably construct airships in the near future, Edison thought, but it was absurd to imag­ ine that someone could do so secretly at that time. He sug­ gested that the whole affair was a hoax and the objects were colorful gas-inflated balloons. 41 Most newspapers agreed with Edison that the airship was a hoax and printed editorials to this effect. The Sacramento

Daily Record-Union attributed the sightings to balloons. Any, one who thought the airships were real was mistaken: "No one went flying through the air on Tuesday night on a machine with a powerful electric light." The editorial did ad­ mit, however, that people had seen a light. On the next day the paper carried another editorial that articulated the most common thought about airship witnesses-they were drunk-and placed the airship in the hoax tradition of the sea serpent : "The sea serpent never appeared off the Atlantic coast when there was any dearth of whiskey"; the same was true of the airship, which "cannot be verified prope rly without a liberal use of stimulants. " Similarly, the Birmingham (Ala­

b ama) News thought "if the airship b usiness continues, the Prohibitionist party will be driven into calling an extra session to formulate plans for an emergency campaign." An editorial in the Chicago Tribune equated the airship sightings with the sightings of a sea serpent every year in Lake Michi­ gan. The Kansas City ( Missouri) Star declared simply that the airship was Venus and people who thought otherwise had "more imagination than astronomy." The paper charged that San Francisco newspapers had initiated the airship hoax and placed the airship in a long tradition of elaborate hoaxes, including the Kansas meteor and the Prince of Wales's trip to America to see the Fitzsimmons-Corbett fight.42 Taking an ironic stance, the Chicago Tribune said the "vessel is purely a celestial body which has taken on a few ' terrestrial attributes in order to accommodate inself to the limitations of human imagination." Some people, the editorial I pointed out, even agreed with the "preposterous supposition" that the light was the planet Venus. This could not be true because "a man who knew the facts" said that "Venus does not dodge around, fly swiftly across the horizon, swoop rap­ idly toward, then soar away until lost in the southern awry [sic]." Ironically, many newspapers used this last statement to support the belief that the airsh ip was not Venus.43 Agreeing with the hoax theory, the Des Moines Leader


22

The UFO Controversy in A merica

said airship stories were one of the "most successful fakes in an era of such successes" and a plot that telegraph operators had devised. Operators had kept the airship hoax alive by constantly reporting it in their vicinities, but "when the rest of the public began to take a hand, the airships got too nu­ merous; the reports would conflict, and it was evident that ei­ ther there was a whole family of the ships or else somebody was manufacturing storues [sic]." The editorial concluded that similar overworked imaginations had deceived the rest of the country. Madison's Wisconsin State Journal attributed the airship to drunks, apparitions, optical illusions, wishful think- : ing, overzealous newspapermen, and stars. It stated :flatly that "there is no airship." To prove the airship a hoax, the Cincin­ nati Commercial-Tribune had a photographer take a fake photograph of an airship to show how such evidence could be the product of trickery. The Baltimore News said dryly : "Last summer is was free silver, now it is airships; what next, nobody knows. "44 1 In contrast to the above editorials, the Memphis Commercial A ppeal simply stated that "the airship seems to be an accomplished fact." The Dallas Morning News, reluctant to admit that someone had invented an airship, remarked that "nobody need be at all astonished if the airship of fancy should in due course of experiment and invention become an airship in fact." In an article entitled "The Airship Serial," the Galveston Daily News expressed confidence in the future of '

J

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I

I

aerial navigation and in technology's ability to overcome eventually the problems of the air. In a more practical ap­ proach, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believed the airship would influence frontier taxation and smuggling : "Customs houses would be useless, and the army of officers that now collects customs on imports would have to seek other employ­ ment." Also, "Mr. Dingley and his tariff protection would be 'knocked out.' "411

As soon as airship stories appeared , imaginative ways of dealing with them emerged as well in the press. Would-be poets spun verses to describe the phenomenon, like the one that appeared in the Sacramento Daily Record-Union:

I see'd it ! I see'd it! Away up in the air, And the gooses and the duckses Stopped in their flight to stare At the aerphone, or balloon-phone,


The Mystery A irship

23

A sailin' round up there. I see'd it ! I see'd it! 'Twas a funny-lookin sight, A sailin' round the stars With its incandescent light足

Sashaying first with Jup iter, Then dancin' round the moon, An' bowing to Andromedear足 Was the electrified balloon. I see'd it! I see'd it! And a friend of mine will swear That he too see'd the new masheen A tlyin' round up there. He's way up in astronomy, An' never tells a lie, An' knows the name of all them things A shinin' in the sky.

Several other newspapers printed similar poems, some of them combining political satire with the airship myst ery. One such effort in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch concluded : That agent o f Prosperity That travels in Advance. I s ays it "was", for now, alas! 'Tis fallen in the dust; The bag above it filled with gas, By some mischance did bust; And Hanna and McKinl ey dig Each other o n the sly, And grin while thinking of the big Explosion in the sky.

With its poem, the Dallas Morning News p rinted a cartoon th at pictured an airsh ip, labeled "The Advance-Agent of Prosperity," floating over crowds of farmers ; the title of the cartoon was "The Secret of the Airship Disclosed."46 There were other cartoons on the subje ct as well. They ranged from serious attempts to illustrate an airship, to politi足 cal commentaries, to humorous statements. A cartoon in the Chicago Times-Herald d ep icted various Chicago nominees running riot in a car suspended beneath two balloons filled with the hot air of campaign oratory. The St. Louis Post足 Dispatch carried two c artoons , one of a drunk person stand-


24

The UFO Controversy in A merica

ing near a light pole seeing two cigar-shaped airships in the ' sky--<me marked "Domestic" and the other "Havana"-and the second showing people looking at the object through vari­ ous types of appliances, including a whiskey bottle, a wine bottle, and a glass,47 Although many newspapers and scientists ascribed the air­ ship to hoaxes, hallucinations, alcohol, and the like, some people thought it existed and tried to account for its presence and seemingly inexplicable behavior. The most common the­ ory was that a secret inventor had developed an airship. Another theory held that extraterrestrial visitation was pos­ sibler-the most_ popular source being Mars. Schiaparelli's remarkable discovery in 1 877 of "canals" on the Martian sur­ face, the appearance of "seasons" on the planet, and science fiction literature of the day all created a general interest in the possibility of life on Mars. Jules Verne and H. G. Wells had helped popularize the idea that airships came from Mars. Wells's 1 897 story ''The Crystal Egg" told about a Martian . television-monitoring device that people had found on earth"= Moreover, a commonly held belief was that the Martian land­ scape was habitable, its air breathable, its costumes conven­ tional, and the inhabitants humanlike.4S The idea of an inhabitable Mars appeared in press and witness accounts too. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said some­ thing was in the sky well worth scientific attention : "these may be visitors from Mars, fearful, at the last, of invading the planet they have been seeking." The Post-Dispatch sug­ gested sending the Martians " a message of peace and good­ will as well as a hospitable invitation to alight." After people in Girard, lllinois, saw a machine on the ground, approached it, and watched it rise and fly off, they found footprints in the area; they concluded that "something has happened above the clouds that man has not yet accounted for." People in Texas thought the airship was an exploring party from another planet, and the Washington Times conjectured it was a recon· noitering party from Mars. The Memphis Commercial AP­ peal, also speculating about extraterrestrial visitation, decided that even if "the inhabitants of M ars or some nearer planet have succeeded in overcoming the force of gravitation, it is impossible that human life could be sustained while making the voyage to the earth. It must be the work of man, and of someone who inhabits this earth."49 Although these extrater­ restrial speculations were limited because of the more seem­ ingly plausible secret inventor theory, they nevertheless form

"l I

1


The Mystery A irship

25

a link between the 1 89 6-97 airship mystery and the modern UFO controversy. Another popular idea was that the airship was an elaborate advertising scheme. A reporter in Omaha hypothesized that the airship might be an advertisement for cigarettes, and other people in that city thought, if not for cigarettes, it was a gimmick for another product. Citizens of Madison, Wiscon­ sin, were convinced that the circus in nearby Baraboo was using the airship as a clever advertising scheme, especially since people in cities on the circus route reported seeing an airship. One company did, in fact, capitalize on the airship's publicity : Beck's Stove and Range Company published a hu­ morouS drawing of an airship and confessed that the whole affair was a publicity stunt. In a s emi- seriou s statement, the company described ' how it had made the airship and gave a short history of the ship's flights. In conclusion, the advertise­ ment cautioned : "Don't you believe that any air-ship is gen u­ ine unless it bears out Trademark."50 A related theory, which an Omaha newspape r developed, was that the airship was the second part of a confidence scheme. Several years before, a man in Omaha had charged gullible people twenty-five cents to sit in a stadium and see an airship fly. Of course the flight never materialized, but now th e h oaxers, the newspapers theorized, had obtained a real airship and had come back to give people their money's worth. The airship crew was afraid to land because the bilked people "have always been convinced that it was a confidence scheme, and notwithstanding McKinley's election, confidence has not yet been restored to these people."51 Other theories approached similar levels of absurdity. A man in Hempstead, Texas, thought the airship was actually fireflies or "lightning bugs" which could give off very bright lights and seemed to have characteristics in common with the airship : "On dark nights they fly high and are very rapid in their movements, throwing flashlights every few seconds, of­ ten at longer intervals." A Washington State man, in a letter to the Sacramento Daily Record-Union, said the solution to the airship mystery was a pelican; he had captured one, tied a Japanese lantern around one of its legs, and turned it loose-hence, the airship sightings. A theory put forth in At­ lanta, Texas, suggested the airship is th e property of a gang of cracksmen [burglars], who by the aid of the searchlight and X-rays, under the management of scientific experts, sail over the towns and look through the wall s of the houses and "


26

The UFO Controversy in A merica

bank vaults and locate the booty; that they return on a later date and secure it, and then disappear by the aid of their air­ ship. "52 Despite all the observations of the airship phenomenon and both serious and humorous speculation about its nature and origin, the question of what it was remains. Not all of the hundreds of consistent and detailed sightings can be dismissed as hoaxes, illusions, or hallucinations. The most logical and reasonable explanation, in the context of American society of 1 8 9 6-97, was the secret inventor theory-that perhaps a

powered, controlled flight of an airship actually occurred be­ fore present records indicate. Is it possible that not one but many airships, intelligently powered and controlled, flew through American skies during this period? European inventors were far ahead of their American counterparts in developing an airship. Henri Giffard of France built the first navigable (but not practical) one in 1 8 52; it traveled seventeen miles at a speed of five and one­ half miles per hour. But it was underpowered and Giffard could not circle or return to the place from which be had started. Frenchmen Albert and Tissandier applied an electric motor to an airship in 1 8 8 3 and 1 8 84 and enjoyed a slight amount of success in navigating it ; yet this machine, too, was underpowered and could not maintain itself against the wind current. In 1 8 84 Charles Renard and A. C. Krebs made a more successful flight in France. Their nonrigid dirigible with an electric motor could travel about thirteen miles per hour and return to the point from which it left. The experiment proved that an airship could be practical. However, the power source was still inadequate and the airship could travel only a short distance and carry very little weight.113 David Schwartz built the first completely rigid dirigible in Germany in 1 8 97. Although the trial flight failed, the machine was an important development in that it used a gasoline-powered engine. Two other Germans, Wolfert and Baumgarten, built the first dirigible with an internal-combus­ tion engine but the ship exploded before its trial flight. De­ velopment of the modern dirigible began in France in 1 8 98 with Alberto Santos-Dumont's first airship. Its nonrigid body with two internal-combustion engines was controllable. In 1 90 1 Santos-Dumont thrilled France by traveling seven miles in thirty minutes, spectacularly rounding the Eiffel Tower to return to his starting point. 54 American airship builders during the 1 8 8 0s and 1 890s ex-


The Mystery A irship

27

perimented as well, but few ever completed a machine. In 1 884 Arthur DeBausset, a Chicago physician, designed an electrically powered vacuum tube that was supposed to carry people over great distances at high speeds. He organized a stock company and began soliciting money, but he failed to obtain the funds and could not build his airship.M Six years later Edward J. Pennington of Racine, Wisconsin, organized the Aeronautical Company and built a twenty-four-foot model of a projected airship. Pennington's model remarkably resembled the "mystery airship" sighted in 1 896 and 1 897 : it had a cigar-shaped gas bag with wings attached on the sides, a large railroad-like car hanging from the bottom of the bag, and storage batteries to light the car. But Pennington, like DeBausset, could not raise the necessary funds to actually build the ship. His exaggerated claim that the ship could travel �t two hundred miles per hour prompted press ridicule, especially from the Chicago Tribune, which dampened his fund-raising efforts. 56 In the 1 890s American air pioneers Chanute, Lilienthal, Langley, and Pilcher were conducting heavier-than-air experi­ ments. However, these contrivances had no similarities with witnesses' descriptions of the airship and, as far as historians know, no motor-powered airships flew in America in 1 896 or 1 897. (A bicycle-powered airship did fly for short distances at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in May 1 897.57 ) In 1 900 A. Leo Stevens built the first motor-driven navigable airship flown in the United States. After this, others experi­ mented with limited success, and in 1 904 Thomas B aldwin's four years of experimenting resulted in the flight of the first practical dirigible in this country-the California Arrow in Oakland, Califomia.5s In the late 1 890s many people in the United States obtained patents for proposed airships. Most people believed someone would soon invent a flying machine, and many wanted to capi­ talize on the fame and fortune that certainly would come to the first person to launch an American into the skies. As soon as someone had a glimmer of an airship design, he immedi­ ately applied for a patent. These would-be inventors constantly worried over possible theft or plagiarism of their airship designs, for even a patent could not insure that someone might not steal or copy part of a design. As a consequence, most people keep their patents secret. Given this atmosphere and numerous European and American experiments with flight, it is not surprising that secret inventor stories so captured the


The UFO Controversy in A merica

28

public imagination and seemed such a logical explanation for the mystery airship. To some Americans the possibility did exis t that "Wilson" of Texas airship fame was the inventor and pilot of the mystery airship. And, in fact, independent inven­ tors did invent a heavier-than-air flying machine. Nonetheless, all evidence indicates that scientific knowledge about powered flight in 1 8 96 and 1 897 could not have led to the invention of airships with the characteristics witnesses describ ed . 59 And even if an independent inventor had been able to design and fly a successful airship, the problem of secrecy would have been almost insurmountable. An inventor would h ave found it nearly impossible to spend time and money designing an experimental c raft and test flying it with out someone discovering his activ ities Moreover, in light of the nu mber of different airships reported in many states dur ing . 1 8 96 and 1 8 97, a mysterious inventor would have had enormous difficulties concealing himself. The airship phenomenon of 1 89 6-97 constitutes the first major wave of documented unidentified flying object s ightings in America (although not the first sightings per se) . Occur­ ring at a time when technology could not dupl icate the char­ acteristics witnesses described, the sightings created a national controversy. Although most p e ople expecte d an airship in the near future, the immediate reaction of those who had not seen the obj e ct was hostile ; they s imply would not believe it was th ere Neither the numerous newspaper accounts stressing the rel i ab ility and honesty of the witnesses, the descriptions of object characteristics completely unlike any natural phe­ nomena, nor the knowledge that nothing else was in the sky could convince most people to believe an a irship existed. In contrast, for the people who had sighted an object, no amount of persuasion or reason could dissuade them from be­ lieving they had seen an actual airship. To explain the enigma, the publ ic then, as did the p ublic later, looked first for rational explanations those that would make sense in terms of the scientific and the e xperiential knowledge of the time. When these were not co m pletely satis­ factory, the publ ic turned t o more irrational theories. An air­ ship seemed so far out of the realm of current technological knowledge that a gap resulted in people's idea of what should be and what was. Since airships, given the technology of the times, could not have existed, then witnesses who claimed to have seen one obviously had not seen one. Most arguments against the airship idea came from individuals who assumed ­

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The Mystery A irship

29

that the witnesses did not see what they claimed to see. This attitude is the crucial link between the 1 89 6-97 phenome足 non and the modem unidentified flying object phenomenon beginning in 1 947. It also was c entral to the deb ate over whethe r unidentified flying objects constituted a uni qu e phe足 nomenon. Lying low for the first half of the twentieth cen足 tury, while air technology mushroomed, the phenomenon of strange objects in the sky and the furor over it appeared again in 1 947 and became a private and public b attlefield.


2

THE MODERN ERA B EG INS: A TTEM PTS TO REDUCE

THE M YS TER Y

The modem debate over the existence and ongm of unidentified flying objects centered on the Air Force's investi­ gation of the phenomenon. Beginning in 1 947, the Air Force started to collect and evaluate reports. When it had acquired what it considered to be adequate information, it determined that UFOs represented nothing unusual in the atmosphere. The methodology the Air Force used in arriving at this con­ clusion became a focal point of the controversy. But even be­ fore 1 947, when the modem controversy began, the United States twice had been involved with large-scale sightings of unidentified flying objects, first in World War II and then postwar Sweden.

in

The first sightings occurred when Allied bomber pilots re­ ported that strange balls of light and disc-shaped objects fol­ lowed them as they f1ew over Germany and Japan. The American pilots dubbed these UFOs foo-fighters, after a pun on the French word for fire (feu ) appeared in the popular comic strip Smokey Stover: "Where there's foo, there's fire." The foo-fighters danced off the bombers' wingtips or paced the planes in front and back. Naval personnel at sea also saw the objects maneuvering in the sky. At first the Allies thought the objects were static electricity charges; then rumor had it

that they were either German or Japanese secret weapons designed to foul the ignition systems of the bombers. Later many servicemen decided that the absence of overt foo­ fighter hostility meant the objects must be psychological war­ fare weapons sent al oft to confuse and unnerve American pilots. Ironically, after the war the American public learned

that the Germans

and Japanese had encountered

30

the same

'11


·�

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The Modern Era Begins

31

strange phenomenon and bad explained it as Allied secret weapons. The United States Eighth Army made a cursory in­ vestigation of the foo-fighters and concluded that they were the product of "mass b allucination."1 No one was overly concerned with them at the time because they did not appear to be hostile. Their explanation or source, however, remains a mystery. The second wave of sigbtings occurred in Western Europe and Scandinavia, where from 1 94 6 to 1 948 many people re­ ported seeing strange, cigar-shaped objects. Witnesses in Sweden and Finland sighted the objects close to the Soviet border, making American intelligence agents curious. They feared that these ghost rockets, as they were called, might be secret weapons the Russians developed with the help of Ger­ man scientists and captured designs from the Peenemlinde, Germany, secret proving ground. Army intelligence dis­ patched General James A. Doolittle to investigate the reports in cooperation with the Swedish government. The investiga­ tors explained 80 percent of the objects as misidentifica­ tion of natural phenomena but made no conclusion about the other 20 percent. The Swedish government tried to use the ghost rocket sigbtings as a rationale to buy new and sophisti­ cated radar equipment from the United States. It hoped that the new radar would be able to track and recover one of the rockets. But the United States Army, having determined that there was only a small possibility the ghost rockets were secret weapons, refused to sell the radar to Sweden.2 While Sweden was experiencing its wave of UFO sightings, the modem era of sightings in the United States began. On June 24, 1 947, B oise businessman Kenneth Arnold, an ex­ perienced mountain and licensed air rescue pilot, was flying his private plane from Chehalis to Yakima, Washington, when he decided to look for a downed plane missing for some d ays. While searching, Arnold saw nine disc-shaped ob­ jects flying in loose formation and making an undulating mo­ tion, like, he said, "a saucer skipping over water." Arnold times the speed of the objects as they passed between two points and calculated them to be traveling over 1 ,700 miles per hour-an unprecedented speed for 1 947. He told his story to the ground crew in Yakima. When he flew on to Pendleton, Washington, his story had preceded him and skep­ tical newsmen awaited him. But because Arnold was such a reputable citizen ( pilot, busine ssman, deputy sheriff ) , skepti-


32

The UFO Controversy in A merica

cism changed to wonder and the joumalists reported the in­ cident as a serious news item. a The Arnold sighting was vital for modem UFO history in the United States. As a result of his description of the ob­ jects, the newspaper headline writers coined the term flying saucer,'*' which rapidly spread around the world as the most popular phrase to describe UFOs. The phrase allowed people to place seemingly inexplicable observations in a new cate­ gory. Witnesses scanning the sky could now report that they saw something identifiable : a flying saucer. Moreover, the term subtly connoted an artificially constructed piece of hard­ ware; a saucer is not a natural object. Consequently, when a witness said at th at time that he saw a flying saucer, he im­ plied by the use of the term itself that he had seen something strange and even otherworldly. The term also · set a tone of ridicule for the phenomenon. The idea of saucers flying on their own volition was absurd. The term allowed people to laugh at the very notion of an unusual object in the sky with­ out having to confront the circumstances behind the event. Saucers do not fly. It was ludicrous for a witness, using the only phrase available to him, to say that he saw one. There­ fore, he obviously did not see one. The term itself made the actual event seem invalid. Perhaps the greatest importance of the Arnold story is that it encouraged people all over the country to come forth with their own reports about strange objects in the sky. Many of these sightings occurred before Arnold's. In this sense the Ar­ nold sighting acted as a dam-breaker and a torrent of reports poured out. Newspapers printed hundreds of these accounts. Independent UFO investigator Ted Bloecher studied the 1 947 wave of sightings and found that, with 850 reports, it was o ne of the largest sighting years on record. Some reports went back to January, but the peak did not come until July, one month after the Arnold story broke. II The press went through stages in its attitude toward the 1 947 sightings. At first it reported the stories fairly and im­ partially. But as some of the stories became more fantastic and as newsmen vainly searched for proof, they added ridi­ cule to their reports-a ridicule stimulated by the fact that no one had found a flying saucer or could offer concrete evi­ dence that such things even existed. Many previously skepti­ cal newsmen began to feel that nothing unusual or anomalous bad existed in the sky in the first place. By the end of July newspaper reporters automatically placed any witness who


The Modern Era Begins

33

claimed t o see something strange i n the sky in the crackpot category. Kenneth Arnold became victim to this belated ridi­ cule and stated : "If I saw a ten-story building flying through the air I would never say a word about it." An Air Force in­ vestigator privately noted in mid-July that Arnold was "prac­ tically a moron in the eyes of the majority of the population of the United States."6 News reporters had some evidence on which to base their skepticism. Along with the authentic 1 947 sightings came nu­ merous hoaxes that, as in the 1 89 6-97 period, added to the confusion. The most important hoax of the time took place at Maury Island near Tacoma, Washington. This hoax would not have been so sensational were it not for a tragedy that occurred in the course of its investigation. Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman claimed to have encountered a flying saucer at close range while boating off Maury Island. They said the fly­ ing saucer had dropped fragments of slaglike metal on them during the incident and they had picked up some of this material. Kenneth Arnold, who had been keenly following UFO reports since his sighting, heard about the two men and phoned army intelligence officers in California to tell them about the sighting. The army immediately dispatched two of­ ficers to interview Crisman and Dahl. But the interview never took place because the two army men were killed in a plane crash en route to Hamilton AFB. Later under Air Force in­ terrogation Crisman and Dahl confessed they had created the entire episode in hopes of selling the story to a magazine.T Numerous minor hoaxes occurred as well. Vernon Baird, a pilot, reported seeing a bunch of "yo-yo's" while flying over Montana. A Los Angeles newspaper printed the story on July 6, 1 947, and other newspapers around the country quickly picked it up. Baird later said it was all a joke he had cooked up while shooting the breeze with the boys around the hangar. Other people thought it would be good fun to make saucer-shaped objects and leave them in people's yards so that they could discover a crashed saucer. One midwestern newspaper offered $3,000 to anyone who could prove that flying saucers existed, and this prompted many individuals to perpetrate hoaxes to collect the reward. As in 1 896-97, some people tried to capitalize on the saucer craze. A public­ ity agent sent his clients pie plates inscribed with their names. Another press agent advertised a radio show featuring the "Flying Saucer Blues."B Some people, of course, viewed the situation seriously. The


34

The UFO Co n troversy

in A merica

Washington Air National Guard equipped all its pilots with cameras in h opes of getting a picture of a flying saucer. When the pilots were unsuccessful, this added to the suspi­ cion that nothing unusual had been in the sky to begin with. But lack of photographic evidence was not the only thing making people suspicious. A constant stream of explanations for the reports helped as well. This urge to explain, as it may be called, became an integral part of the UFO controversy. Although this behavior was evident to a lesser degree in the 1 896-97 sighting wave, it came to full fruition in the twenti­ eth-century sighting waves. Prompted perhaps by the tremen­ dous increase in scientific knowledge of the world and the universe, scientists seemed to put limits on the expansion and direction of that knowledge. Instead of attempting to discover if any of the reported UFO observations represented anom a- . lous phenomena, scientists, academics, and other professional people simply categorically denied that the observations were of anomalous phenomena, and many denied that the witnesses had seen anything at all. Because these explanations came from "experts," people accepted them more readily. The urge to explain became a severely limiting factor in the study of unidentified flying objects. The San published a group of ex­ planations for the Arnold sighting. One United Air Lines p i­ lot thought Arnold had seen the reflection of his instrument panel off his cockpit window. A meteorologist suggested Ar-­ nold h ad seen strange objects because he had become slightly snowblind. A University of Oregon astronomer said Arnold was the vistim of persistent vision, the result of staring at the sun for long periods of time. 9 Some scientists began to notice the UFO interest and to issue explanations for it. At a meeting of the American Associ­ ation for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Decem­ ber 26, 1 947, Dr. C. C. Wylie, an astronomer at the Univer­ sity of Iowa, suggested that the UFOs were an example of national mass hysteria. He blamed the sightings on "the present failure of scientific men to explain promptly and accurately flaming objects seen over several states, flying sau­ cers and other celestial phenomena which arouse national in­ terest." This failure, he explained, caused the public to lose confidence in the "intellectual ability of scholars." Gordon A. Atwater an astronomer at the Hayden Planetarium, told the Times that the first sighting reports were authentic but that most subsequent reports were the result of a "mild

Francisco Chronicle

New Ydrk


The Modern Era Begins

35

case of meteorological jitters" combined with "mass hypno­ sis. " Dr. Jan Schilt, Rutherford Professor of Astronomy at Columbia, explained that a speeding plane had churned up the atmosphere, thereby causing distorted light rays that were responsible for the sightings . Dr. Newborn Smith of the United States Bureau of Standards laughed the whole thing off as another Loch Ness monster story.1 o The New York Times also interviewed Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko and air pioneer Orville Wright. In a light­ hearted manner Gromyko suggested that the UFOs were discs from Soviet discus throwers practicing for the Olympic Games. Orville Wright believed that no scientific basis for the objects existed and darkly hinted at a more sinister explana­ tion: "It is more propaganda for war to stir up the people and to •excite them to believe a foreign power has designs on this nation." In the same article, the Times quoted Leo Cre­ spi, Princeton psychologist, as saying the real problem was whether a flying saucer was an illusion with objective refer­ ence or whether it was "delusionary in nature. "l l Not all the explanations were serious. The New York

Times began a long antipathy to the subject of UFOs by printing a tongue-in-cheek editorial suggesting that the objects were "atoms escaping from an overwrought bomb," Air Force antiradar devices, visitors from another planet, or af­ terimages of light on the human eye. Yet another suggestion was that the objects, all being silver, were coins that "high­ riding government officials" scattered to reduce the country's overhead. The New York Times consistently took this humor­ ous stance during the first five years of the controversy. Life magazine followed suit, printing a suggestion from Harvard anthropologist Ernest A. Hooton that saucers were "mis­ placed halos searching for all the people who were killed over the Fourth of July." The Life article compared the UFO sightings to those of the Loch Ness monster.12 As had hap­ pened in 1 896-97, many magazine writers with flashes of humorous "insight" insisted on equating flying saucers with the Loch Ness monster or sea serpents. These early attempts to explain the phenomenon contain nearly all the assumptions the public and the Air Force made throughout the controversy. Almost everyone assumed the objects were real but easily explained-that witnesses had sim­ ply misidentified conventional phenomena. An August 1 947 Gallup Poll projected that 90 percent of the adult population had heard of flying saucers and that most people thought the


36

The UFO Controversy in A merica

objects were illusions, ho axes, secret weapons, or other ex­ plainable phenomena. According to the poll, very few people thought the obj ects came from space.1s This poll raised a cru­ cial question : Were people able to distinguish between atmo­ spheric and man-made phenomena? The agency best able to m ake this differentiation at the time was the Air Force. It took on the task, sending all re­ ports to the Technical Intelligence Division of the Air Materiel Command , at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. This division quietly received reports throughout 1 947. Because national defense was its primary responsibility, it initially was interested in whether the objects might be secret weapons. In- ' telligence personnel thought it was possible that either the Soviets h ad developed a fantastic secret weapon, the same one the Germans supposedly were working on at the Peenemiinde proving ground, or that another branch of the United States military had developed a secret weapon unknown to the Air Materiel Command. The investigators at first did not connect flying saucers with the foe-fighters, ghost rockets, or the 1 8 96-97 airships. Although privately interested in the phenomenon, the Air Force's public position was that the saucers were probably misidentifications. On July 4, 1 947, an Army-Air Force spokesman said the military had not developed a new secret weapon that might be responsible for the sightings and a pre­ liminary study of UFOs had "not produced enough fact to , warrant further investigation." He dismissed the Arnold sight­ ings as not realistic enough to deserve more study. In the same announcement, however, the Air Materiel Command said it was, in fact, investigating the matter further (particu­ larly sightings in Texas and the Pacific Northwest) to deter­ mine whether the objects were meteorological phenomena. It thought perhaps they were sol ar reflections on low-hanging clouds, or "large hailstones which might have flattened out and glided a bit. "14 Because sources for the early years of the Air Force's UFO investigation are scarce, one necessarily has to rely on Ed­ ward Ruppelt's The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects for much of the information. As head of the Air Force UFO in­ vestigation group from 1 9 5 1 to 1 9 5 3 , Ruppelt had access to files now no longer available. In his book he explained that the Air Materiel Command (AMC) in 1 947- had no formal structure within which to investigate sighting reports and that the staff hesitated to do so on its own-without specific or-


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ders. T o the people a t AMC, n o orders meant the Air Force not officially interested in the subject. Nonetheless, the staff did collect reports in a haphazard manner, filing news足 paper accounts and reports made to other military bases. Finally, AMC received classified orders to investigate all re' ports it collected.15 Because the order was classified, and the objects might be Soviet weapons, the Air Force insisted that the investigation be secret and tightened security. Ruppelt said that the Air Force "top brass" wanted to solve the problem quickly. This created a certain amount of pressure and the staff began making frantic attempts to find answers. According to Ruppelt, two main schools of thought resulted. Some Air Force investigators thought the objects were terrestrial-either Russian secret weapons, atmospheric phenomena, or a secret navy circular plane called the XF-5U- 1 or the Flying Flapj ack. The navy had scrapped the circu足 lar plane project in 1 942, but the Air Force investigators did not eliminate the possibility that perhaps it had started the project again without the Air Force's knowledge. Other Air Force intelligence personnel thought the objects might be ex足 traterrestrial-spaceships or space animals. Eventually both groups merged to investigate what seemed to be most likely and immediate : the Soviet secret weapon theory. 1 6 was

I

In the meantime public speculation and interest were growing. Many people thought the atomic bomb might in some way have caused the sightings. This prompted David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, to state publicly that the UFOs were not a result of the testing program.t7 At the end of 1 947, after having officially received 1 56 reports, the Air Force decided that the problem required a more complete investigation than the one in progress at AMC. On September 23, 1 947, Lieutenant General Nathan F. Twining, commander of the Air Materiel Command, wrote to the commanding general of the Army-Air Forces saying that "the phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious"; the objects appeared to be disc shaped, as large as aircraft, and controlled "either manually, automatically, or remotely." Twining said it most likely was possible to build an aircraft with similar flight characteristics, but "any developments in this country along the lines indi足 cated would be extremely expensive, time-consuming and at the considerable expense of current projects." Twining thought the military must still consider the possibilities that


38

The UFO Controv�rsy i n A merica

the objects were of domestic origin, that one might crash and provide positive physical evidence of its existence, and that they might be of foreign origin and "possibly nuclear." But because the military could only speculate about the objects, Twining recommended that "Headquarters, Army-Air Forces , issue a directive assigning a priority, security classification and Code Name for a detailed study of this matter." In the meantime, AMC would continue to collect the data as they came in. 1B Major General L. C. Craigie accepted this recommendation and issued an order, on December 3 0, 1 947, to establish an Air Force project to study the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects. The project, code name Sign, would be at Wright Field ( now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base ) under the auspices of the Technical Intelligence Division of AMC and would carry a 2A restricted classification ( l A was the highest) . Its function was to "collect, collate, evaluate and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security." The main purpose was to determine whether UFOs were a threat to the national security. Project Sign, known publicly as Project Saucer, began work on Janu­ ary 22, 1 94 8 . 1 9 Two weeks before Project Sign's establishment, a famous sighting occurred that occupied much of the project staff's time and attention for the next year. On January 7, 1 94 8 , witnesses in the Louisville , Kentucky, area saw a cone- 'I shaped, silvery object, tipped with red, about 250 to 300 feet in diameter, moving in a southerly direction. They reported the sighting to the state police, who called Godman Air Force Base to ask if anyone there had seen it. The flight controllers went outside and quickly saw the object as it floated over­ head. After deciding it was not a plane or weather balloon, the flight controllers radioed four Air National Guard F-5 1 planes,. which were coming into base, to take a look. One plane was low on fuel and landed, but the other three, with Captain Thomas Mantell in the lead, went up to observe. As Mantell climbed to reach the object, it sped away from him and climbed higher; he had no oxygen equipment in his plane and could not follow. But being obviously excited about the object and reporting it was metallic and "tremendous in size," he decided to climb to 20,000 feet to try to overtake it. As he


The Modern Era Begins

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,

39

did this he lost consciousness, his plane went into a dive and crashed, and Mantell died.2o The Mantell incident resulted in more sensational press coverage. The fact that a person had dramatically died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new pros­ pect entered thought about UFOs : they might be not only ex­ traterrestrial but potentially hostile as well. And as if this were not enough to increase public curiosity, the people at Project Sign explained that Mantell had died while trying to reach the planet Venus, which he had apparently mistaken for a flying saucer. The press and the public were incredu­ lous. This official explanation began an enduring theme in the UFO controversy: that the Air Force conspired to keep im­ portant information from the public. ( Three years later, the navy disclosed that a secret, high altitude, photographic reconnaissance Skyhook balloon was in the area and Mantell probably died trying to reach it.21 Ultimately the Air Force concluded that Mantell had died chasing the Skyhook, but it could never definitely establish the presence of that balloon. ) After the Mantell incident the people at AMC began to work earnestly on the problem. They assumed that conscien­ tious observers had sighted real objects and that UFOs were not products of misidentification. According to Ruppelt, Pro­ ject Sign staff thoroughly investigated every possibility that the objects could be Soviet secret weapons of German design. AMC even contacted those German designers in America to see if it were possible for the Soviets to have used the designs to develop flying saucers. In every case the answer was nega­ tive.22 Furthermore, AMC reasoned that the outside metal would not hold up under the tremendous heat at the reported speeds, and if the objects were actually Russian secret weapons, the Soviets would be foolish to fly them over hostile territory where they might crash and the Americans could recover them. The Project Sign staff was left with some unsettling impli­ cations. If the objects were real but not Soviet or American, and if their flight characteristics did not match the state of technology at the time, then perhaps they were not ordinary; perhaps they came from another planet. One group at Project Sign began to explore this possibility seriously. Ruppelt found a memorandum in the project files stating that thinking of the objects in human terms was unproductive ; thinking of them in nonhuman terms might help explain their maneuvering


40

The UFO Controversy in A merica

characteristics.23 Nevertheless, another group at Sign was not convinced and maintained that the objects were not extraordi­ nary but rather manifestations of psychological quirks, or man-made, or natural atmospheric phenomena mislabeled. But at this time the group favoring the extraordinary hy­ pothesis won the day and the Sign investigators focused on the possibility of extraterrestrial origin. By the time Project Sign began its investigation in 1 948, press ridicule of UFO witnesses was intense, and newspapers, losing much of their initial enthusiasm for the subject, printed fewer articles about sightings. This enabled Sign personnel to work with maximum privacy and minimum disturbance from February to the beginning of August. But on July 24, 1 948, another famous and controversial sighting catapulted the UFO controversy into the headlines again. Captains Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted, flying an Eastern Air Lines DC-3, saw a large light, traveling at a tremendous speed, fly toward them. As the light-object approached, the startled pi­ lots noticed it was cigar shaped, had two rows of windows around it with light coming from them, and had a red orange flame coming out of one end. Chiles and Whitted became alarmed as the object streaked past the DC-3 at about seven hundred miles per hour, made a sharp angular tum, climbed into the clear sky, and then seemed simply to vanish. The one passenger awake at the time said he saw a bright flash of light go by his window but could not provide any details. A pilot flying another plane in the vicinity reported seeing a bright object in the sky at about the same time. Later, people on the ground also reported witnessing a similar object at about the same time as the DC-3-object encounter.M For the first time two obviously competent witnesses and a passenger had seen a UFO at close range. The sightings, classified unknown, had a great impact at Sign. The people at AMC now felt it was time to present their :findings. They wrote an unofficial "Estimate of the Situation," classified top secret. The Estimate traced the history of UFO sightings, in­ cluding the ghost rockets and American sightings before 1 947; it concluded that the evidence indicated the UFOs were of extraterrestrial origin. The Project Sign staff sent their report through channels, all the way to Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. The general decided the report , lacked proof and sent it back to Sign where it died quietly. A ], few months later the Air Force declassified and burned the ' report.21i

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The Modern Era Begins

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According t o Ruppelt, the failure of the "Estimate o f the Situation" to receive official blessing. resulted in a policy change at Project Sign. The people who had suggested that the objects were extraordinary and perhaps extraterestrial suddenly lost influence and the people who believed the objects were ordinary gained prestige. A subtle change in climate ensued and the proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis found themselves championing an unpopular the­ ory. The prevailing opinion at AMC was that UFOs could be explained in conventional terms .2 6

On the whole, Sign's UFO investigations were fairly good. Its main problem was that the staff was too inexperienced to discriminate between which sightings to investigate thor­ oughly. Because of unfamiliarity with the phenomenon, the staff spent inordinate amounts of time on sightings that were obviously aircraft, meteors, or hoaxes . The staff also spent much time looking into the private lives of witnesses to see if they were reliable. Sign checked routinely with FBI field of­ fices and criminal and subversive files of police departments, and the staff interviewed the witnesses' fellow employees, friends, and acquaintances. The Sign staff, however, did a creditable j ob considering that these early sightings usually contained too little information on which to base any kind of judgment and that the Air Force had no standardized method of reporting sightings. In February 1 949, Project Sign issued a report reflecting the philosophies of the group that thought the objects were extraordinary and of the group that thought they were ordi­ nary. The report concluded that the staff had not found enough evidence to either prove or disprove an objective exis­ tence to flying saucers. On the one hand, positive proof of the existence of UFOs could come only from hard data, i.e., the remains of a downed saucer. On the other hand, "proof of non-existence is equally impossible to obtain unless a reason­ able and convincing explanation is determined for each in­ cident," and the staff acknowledged it had not been able to do this for 20 percent of the sightings. 2 T Furthermore, the staff said it did not have enough evidence to conclude that the objects did not represent a security threat to the United States, even though it had no evidence to suggest the objects were Russian weapons. Since the staff ar­ rived at "simple and understandable" causes for some of the objects, "there is the possibility that enough incidents can be solved to eliminate or greatly reduce the mystery associated


42

The UFO Controversy in A merica

with these occurrences." However, the Project Sign staff be­ lieved that evaluating UFO reports was a necessary activity for military intelligence agencies : the sightings were "inevita­ ble," and during war "rapid and convincing solutions of such occurrences are necessary to maintain morale of military and civilian personnel." For this reason alone the staff thought the Air Force should train competent people to handle the problem. The report recommended that the Air Force expend only a minimum effort to collect and evaluate the data on flying saucers : "When and if a sufficient number of incidents are solved to indicate that these sightings do not represent a threat to the security of the nation, the assignment of special project status to the activity could be terminated." The Air Force should handle subsequent investigations of the phenomenon routinely, "like any other intelligence work." The report also recommended improving procedures for obtaining accurate measurements by using photography and radar and by relying more on simultaneous ground and air sightings. 28 The Project Sign report included an interesting appendix by James E. Lipp, of the Rand Corporation, on the feasibility of the objects being extraterrestrial. Lipp's reasoning was as follows : because earth is the only evolutionary life-producing planet in our solar system ( he had eliminated all others in his study) , the objects do not come from another planet in our solar system ; assuming that probably one planet in each solar system has an environment conducive to producing evolution­ ary, intelligent life, and assuming that earth is "average in ad­ vancement and development," then a fifty-fifty chance exists that such forms of life are advanced enough to e ngage in space travel; therefore, the objects are more likely to come from planets in other solar systems; but, Lipp explained, even if life on other planets had developed space travel, the dis­ tance between earth and those planets and the time necessary to reach earth probably would prohibit other life from com­ ing here. Besides, Lipp argued, if the extraterrestrials were here they would have contacted us by now. Lipp concluded that it was possible extraterrestrials were visiting earth but that it was highly improbable. In addition, the "actions attrib­ uted to the 'flying objects' reported during 1 947 and 1 948 seem inconsistent with space travel''-as he had formulated it.29 Project Sign's recommend ations set the tone for the contro­ versy over unidentified flying objects for the next twenty


The Modern Era Begins

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years. In 1 949 the cold war was becoming heated and it was natural for Sign to recommend continued military intelligence control over the investigation of sighting reports. Sign never envisioned a nonmilitary, systematic study of the phenome­ non. The staff believed that even if the alleged objects were nonhostile, and therefore not properly within the jurisdiction of the military, the military should still be involved with the subject because of the potential morale problem during war­ time. As a further result of this reasoning, and apart from the growing ridicule attached to the subject, the military's control of the UFO investigation m ay have inhibited the scientific community from conducting its own study of UFOs ; all "good" data were in Project Sign's classified files. Therefore, military inquiry- may have prevented nonmilitary, systematic inquiry--even in the unlikely case that scientists would have found an interest in the phenomenon. After the Project Sign staff issued its report, the project took on a new look based on the ascendancy of the group th,at believed UFOs did not represent any type of extraordi­ nary object. According to Ruppelt, Air Force officials abruptly terminated the plan to expand Project Sign's investi­ gation by placing UFO teams at every Air Force base. New staff people replaced many of the old personnel who had leaned toward the extraterrestrial hypothesis. In the future, Sign personnel would assume that all UFO reports were misidentifications, hoaxes, or hallucinations. J. Allen Hynek, later scientific consultant for the Air Force's UFO project, said that after the Sign report came out the atmosphere at the UFO office was markedly chillier than before. so The new look meant a new name as well. On December 1 6, 1 948, the Air Force director of research and development ordered Proj ect Sign's name changed to Project Grudge, which, under the United States Joint Services Code Word In­ dex, referred to "Detailed Study of Flying Discs." Its purpose was the continued collection and evaluation of UFO data. Grudge retained the 2A security classification and its UFO files were closed to the public. The Project Grudge staff tried to implement Project Sign's recommendations, both by ex­ plaining every UFO report received and by assuring the pub­ lic that the Air Force was investigating the UFO phenome­ non thoroughly and had found no extraordinary objects in the atmosphere. Instead of seeking the origin of a possibly unique phenomenon, as Sign had done, Grudge usually de­ nied the objective reality of that phenomenon. In this way


44

The UFO Controversy in A merica

Grudge shifted the focus of its investigation from the phe­ nomenon to the people who reported it. Grudge also made a concerted effort to alleviate possible public anxiety over UFOs by embarking on a public relations campaign designed to convince the public that UFOs constituted nothing unusual or extrao rdinary. sl As part of this new public relations focus, the Air Force made its firs t maj o r public statement on UFOs by giving its "whole-hearted co-operation" to writer Sidney Shallett's two­ part article about UFOs for the Saturday Evening Post. The article appeared on April 30 and May 7, 1 949. Shallett be­ lieved most UFO sightings were balloons, atmospheric phe­ nomena, and ordinary objects. He dismiss sed pilots' reports as being "strange tricks" that "the sun, stars, and senses can play upon you in the wild blue." Shallett conceded that a few UFO si ghtings remained unidentified, but most of these were probably the products of "vertigo and self-hyp nosis brought about by staring too long at a fixed light." Shallett dis cu ss ed hoaxes in detail and gave many examples of easily identifi­ a ble sightings , some of which army and Air Force generals had made. He quoted Air Force General Carl Spaatz : "If the American people are capable of getting so excited over something which do esn't exist God help us if anyone ever plasters us with a real atomic bomb." Shallett also suggested a psychological explanation. Americans, living in a "j ittery age," induced in part by an "atomic psychosis" and the po ss i­ bilities of space travel and planned earth-orbiting satellites, easily saw Martians and saucers. s2 The first installment of Shallett's article concluded : "if there is a scrap of bona fide evidence to support the notion that our inventive geniuses or any potential enemy, on this or any other planet, is spewing saucers over America, the Air Force has been unable to locate it." The second part ended with a quotation from Dr. Irving Langmuir, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, a consultant for Project Sign, and, as Shallett admitted, the most outspoken foe of the existence of flying saucers in the United States. Langmuir's final advice to the Air Force on the UFO issue was "Forget it !"33 According to Ruppelt, the Air Force had hoped the article would stem the tide of reports flowing into AMC. But ap­ parently the article failed; a few days after the second part appeared, UFO sightings hit an all-time high. The Air Force, thinking the article caused the sightings, tried to counter this reaction by issuing a lengthy press release saying that UFOs •


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were nothing but products of mass hysteria and the misiden­ tification of natural phenomena. Ruppelt explained the public reaction to the article in two ways. He said, first, that several people at Project Grudge thought the sightings continued be­ cause Shallett had admitted that a few UFOs remained uni­ dentified. According to some of the Grudge staff, this made Shallett prosaucer. Second, Ruppelt said, the article was too biased; instead of alleviating the public's doubts, it planted a seed of doubt in the public mind about the Air Force's inves­ tigating method. Some people started studying the subject on their own because they could not reconcile Air Force concern six months back with the subsequent lack of concern.34 Throughout 1 949 the Air Force worked on gathering evi­ dence to prove that UFOs as a unique phenomenon did not exist. For this the· Air Force had the help of the project's new scientific consultant, J. All en Hynek, a professor of astron­ omy at nearby Ohio State University and head of the McMil­ lan Observatory. Hynek had read about the UFO sightings in the newspapers. He thought the whole business was a joke and that no scientist could possibly take it seriously. But when the Air Force asked him to become its scientific consultant on the subject, he accepted the contract because, as he later said, he enjoyed a sporting challenge. Hynek's job was to sift astro­ nomical phenomena from the UFO reports, as part of the Air Force's efforts to explore every conceivable possibility that witnesses who thought they saw something extraordinary were mistaken. These findings were, of course, classified. Six months after Project Grudge began this official investigation, it was ready to issue its. final report in August 1 949. (The Air Force released a summary of the report to the press on December 27, 1 949. )

Project Grudge reported on 244 cases it had investigated. As the Project Sign staff had recommended, Grudge made an effort to explain every sighting even though many of the ex­ planations seemed forced or highly speculative. The case of a T-6 training plane pilot illustrates these tactics. The pilot no­ ticed a light near him as he was beginning to land and tried to get closer to see what it was, but the light seemed to take "evasive action." The pilot blinked his navigation lights but got no answer. He flew even closer to the light but it went up and over his plane. He tried to get closer again, and again the light turned. He attempted to get between the light and the moon, but the light tur:i:ted so tightly that he could not do it. This scene went on for ten minutes. Finally the pilot made a


46

The UFO Co n troversy in A merica

pass at the l ight and turned on his landing lights. He could see that it was a "d ark gray and oval-shaped" object, which fi­ n ally made a " tight tum and h e ad ed for the coast." Fou r Air Force witnesses who had been watching from the ground completely co rroborated the pilot's story. The Air Weather Service, which spe cializes in weather ball oo ns, investigated

and said the object was "definitely not a b alloon. " Hynek also inv e stigated and said that there was no a strono m ical explana­ tion. The object was neither another airplane nor an h all uci­ nation. Project Grudge, though , explained that the o bj ect was a weather b alloo n but did no t reveal how it had arrive d at this conclusio n. as Grudge's final report also included the results of Hynek's investigation of the M antell case . His conclusions were am­ b iguous, but Hynek speculated that Mantell had chased Venus. Yet because Venus is only a pinpoint in the daylight sky, even at its brightest, Hynek further speculated that if Mantell did not chase Ve nus he probably chased a balloon or maybe two balloons. Late r in a press conference an Air Force major said Mantell had definitely chased Venus. ( Hy­ nek changed his interpertation in 1 952, saying the UFO was not Venus. ) At the time, Hynek and the Air F o rce had no knowledge of the navy's secret Skyhook balloon. a s

Even though the Grudge staff ( working primarily with Hy­ nek) did everything it could to explain all the sightings, 23 percent remained unident ifi ed. For these, Grudge l ook ed to

p sychology. The final report stated : ''There are suffi cient psy­ chological explanations for the rep orts of unidentified flying objects to p rovid e plausible explanations for reports not oth­ erwise explainable. " The Rand Corporation, which had a con­ tract with the Air Force to study reports of sizes and sh a pes of UFOs, found nothing in the reports ''which woul d seri­ ously controvert simple rational explanations of the various phe nom e na in terms of balloons, conventional aircraft, planets, meteors, bits of paper, optical illusions, practical jokers, p sychopatholo gical reporters and the like!' Proj ect Grudge concluded that "there is no evidence that objects re­ ported upon are the result of an advanced scientific foreign development; and therefore, they constitute no direct threat to the national security." It al so concluded that "all evidence and analysis indicated that UFOs were the result of the mis­ interpretation of various conventional objects," or "a mild form of mass hysteria an d war nerves," or hoaxes that public­ ity seekers and "psychopathological persons" perpetrated.


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Grudge recommended, therefore, that the investigation and study of UFO reports should be down-graded and AMC should collect only those reports "in which realistic technical applications are clearly indicated." A note attached said that "further study along present lines would only confirm the find­ ings presented herein."37 Project Grudge, still unsure of public reaction, brought up a phase of the phenomenon that was to occupy much of the Air Force's time and attention : the reported sightings could be dangerous. ''There are indications that the planned release of sufficient unusual aerial objects coupled with the release of related psychological propaganda would cause a form of mild hysteria," the report said. "Employment of these methods by or against an enemy would yiel d similar results." Therefore,

·

"governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare should be informed of the results of this stud y. " Moreover, Grudge recommended that its conclusions be made public in an official press release to dispel "public apprehension."38 The importance of public relations in the UFO controversy is evident in the staff's recommendation that the project be reduced in scope. The Grudge staff thought that the very ex­ istence of an organized Air Force investigatory body might

encourage people to believe that something strange was flying in the skies. With this in mind, the Air Force issued a press release on December 27, 1 949, announcing the termination of Project Grudge. The Air Force decided that now was the time to disengage itself from the public side of the contro­ versy. It transferred Project Grudge personnel elsewhere and stored all its records. While this was going on, however, the Air Force intelligence director, in a directive to the Project Grudge staff, announced that the project had not really dis­ banded and that the order to do so was premature. The direc­ tor explained that the Air Force would continue to collect UFO reports but would handle them through normal intelli­ gence channels rather than by a special project. 39 In fact, the Air Force immediately launched a classified study of a strange phenomenon-green fireballs-th at compe­ tent and reliable observers had reported between 1947 and 1 949. These objects closely resembled meteors except for their bright green color, fiat trajectories, slow speeds, and sighting location ( only northern New Mexico at the time ) . The Air Force's Cambridge Research Laboratory coordinated the study, called Project Twinkle, which was p art of Project Grudge. The Air Force decided it would set up observation


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The UFO Controversy i n A merica

posts in areas of high fireball activity. The men in these posts would be armed with cameras, telescopes, theodolites, and any other equipment that would help them in their observa­ tions. The Air Force set up the first posts at Vaughn, New Mexico, where citizens had frequently reported seeing green fireballs. When the posts went into operation, however, green fireball sightings stopped completely. The men scanned the skies for six months with no luck. Meanwhile a rash of UFO sightings occurred at Hollomon Air Force Base 1 50 miles to the south. So the Air Force packed up and moved its obser­ vation posts to Hollomon. But virtually the same thing hap­ pened. Although some pilots and civilians made a few UFO reports around the area, the observation posts could report nothing tangible after six months of watching. Some scientists in the Air Force thought it might be significant that the sight­ ings had stopped as soon as the Air Force started observing, but the Air Force concluded that sinking more funds into the program was a waste and dropped the project:�o From the beginning of 1 950 until the middle of 1 9 5 1 Pro­ ject Grudge remained in a state of suspended animation. Once again, as with the Project Sign report, Grudge's recom­ mendations discouraged independent civilian investigation. Grudge, in spite of its conclusion that UFOs were not hostile, continued its collection and classification policy and hence the near military monopoly over sighting reports. Even though the Air Force was no longer officially interested in the problem, Grudge refused to declassify its data or recommend that a nonmilitary group study the problem further. Even in late 1 9 5 1 Grudge refused to declassify the Project Twinkle report because it feared that undue public speculation would stir up interest in UFOs. Project Grudge personnel had anticipated a large amount of publicity about the Grudge final report. But press reaction was subdued and mainly limited to noticing that the Air Force had issued the report. Why the expected publicity did not materialize is a matter of conjecture. Ruppelt's specula­ tion was that the report, being so ambiguous and such an obvious attempt to explain every sighting, served to hinder news reporters from believing it or writing about it as the final ex­ planation for the sightings. Whatever the reason, the Project Grudge final report received slight publicity, whereas articles about the UFO phenomenon steadily increased in number. Although most people, according to a 1 950 Gallup Poll, believed UFOs represented secret weapons, hoaxes, misidentifi-

1:

I f


The Modern Era Begins

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cations, and the like, a growing number thought UFOs might be "something from another planet."41 This interest, continued widespread reports of sightings, and the possibility that money could be m ade in the UFO business all helped to in­ crease the number of newspaper and magazine articles. True Magazine, in late 1 949, commissioned Donald E. Key­ hoe, a retired Marine Corps major, to write an independently researched article on flying saucers. Born in 1 897, Keyhoe was an energetic and peppery man who had been a pilot and an aviation writer. As chief of information for the Department of Commerce in 1 927, he had accompanied Charles Lindbergh on his triumphant United States tour after his trans-Atlantic flight. Then in 1 928 Keyhoe wrote a well-received book about the tour called Flying With Lindbergh. In 1 940 Keyhoe wrote M-Day, which described what the United States government planned to do economically and industrially in the event of war. He had also written many m agazine articles about avia­ tion in the 1 9 3 0s and the 1 940s. In 1 949 he turned his atten­ tion to solving the flying saucer mystery. Keyhoe still had m any friends in the upper echelons of the military and went to them for information. He received none, perhaps because Grudge wanted to play down the entire UFO affiar and put a stop to reports. In fact, he alleged that every military person he contacted gave him the "silent treatment. "4 2 Keyhoe sensed a big story. He interpreted the silence to mean official tight security which, in tum, meant that the Air Force was hiding something important. To Keyhoe only one thing could be this important : the flying saucers came from outer space. Keyhoe's article, entitled "The Flying Saucers Are Real," appeared in the January 1 950 issue of True. He concluded : "living, intelligent observers from another planet" had been scrutinizing earth for 1 7 5 years ; the intensity of the visits had increased during the past two years; there were three b asic types of spaceships; and the manner in which the extraterres­ trials observed earth was similar to American plans for space exploration expected to come into being within the next fifty years. Keyhoe reviewed various sightings, including the Man­ tell and Chiles and Whitted cases, and discussed the opinions of several "unnamed authorities" on the origin of the saucers. He refrained from attacking the Air Force because he did not know the reasons for the "cover-up." But he speculated that the Air Force was covering-up to prevent a p anic ( as in the Orson Welles's 1 9 3 8 War of the Worlds broadcast) and to prepare the public for the startling disclosure that the saucers


50

The UFO Controversy in A merica

were from another planet. Keyhoe used h is imagination liber­ ally in the article. When be could not see a clear reason for Air Force policy or actions, he surmised the reason and stated it as fact. Scholarship and reliable information were not strong points of the article. It was, nevertheless, a sensa­ tion and Keyhoe became the leading private UFO "authority" in the country. This issue of True was the most widely sold and read in the magazine's history. Indeed, it was one of the most widely read and discussed articles in publishing history. In the face of this massive publicity, Air Force efforts to as­ sure the public that the article did not reflect the facts accu­ rately were futile. 43 True followed Keyhoe's article with another sensational fly­ ing-saucers-are-real story in March. N avy Commander R. B. McLaughlin, a member of a team of scientists at the White Sands (New Mexico ) secret guided missile development grounds, explained "How Scientists Tracked the Flying Saucers." The navy cleared McLaughlin's article even though he contradicted Project Grudge's findings. He discussed how, in the process of l aunching and tracking a Skyhook balloon, scientists (whose specialties he did not name ) caught sight of a strange silvery object near the balloon. One scientist bad a theodolite ( a surveyor's instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles) , another a stopwatch, and the third a clipboard. They began to record as much information as they could as soon as they saw the obj ect. Before it sped away from view, they were able to ascertain that it was 40 feet long, 1 00 feet wide, and traveling at an altitude of approx­ imately 56 miles and a speed of 25 ,200 miles per hour. McLaughlin was convinced that the object "was a flying saucer, and further, that these discs are spaceships from another planet."« The Keyhoe and McLaughlin articles were the first in a national magazine to present a case for extraterrestrial explanations for UFOs and to contradict official Air Force findings. The articles set the stage for a battle that was to rage for the next twenty years. Still one more element was to enter that battle arena­ Frank Scully's book Behind the Flying Saucers, published in 1 950. Scully was a former Variety columnist who had previ­ ously written Fun in Bed, More Fun in Bed, and Junior Fun in Bed for bedridden people. With this background, Scully presented his book on UFOs as a serious work. In it be related the content of a lecture he had heard at th e Univer­ sity of Denver. The lecturer was Silas Newton, described as

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The Modern Era Begins

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being a millionaire Texas oil man. I n the lecture Newton recounted the experiences of his friend and scientist, "Dr. Gee." The doctor had told Newton that the Air Force cap­ tured three landed saucers and found sixteen, four-foot-tall, dead occupants in them. The Air Force took the occupants for examination to "scientists," one of whom was Dr. Gee. Scully described the occupants and the material composition of the craft. He explained that the water the spacemen drank was "twice as heavy" as earthly water, that the men had no cavities in their teeth, and that the spaceship's metal was much harder than anything known on earth. Neither Newton nor Dr. Gee knew why the Air Force kept this a secret, but Newton theorized that it was to avoid panic.45 In the remainder of the book, Scully discussed some of the famous sightings, Einstein's special theory of relativity, and newspaper articles on UFOs. The Dr. Gee Story, of course, was a hoax. However, Newton had given the lecture at the University of Denver and it seemed that Scully actually be­ lieved the story. The police arrested Newton and Mr. Ge­ Bauer (the mysterious Dr. Gee ) two years later on a charge of fraud. They had bought a worthless piece of war surplus equipment for $4.50 and were trying to sell it as a surefire device for detecting potential oil wells. The price? A mere

$ 800,000.46 In spite of the book's content, it still had a large impact and became a best seller. It was the first American book on UFOs, and Time, Saturday Review, Science Digest, and many other magazines carried reviews of it. 47 But perhaps it was most important as a forerunner of the special breed of saucer disciples-the contactees-who were to emerge a few years later. Scully's book also added to the already great pub­ lic confusion. The Air Force had discounted all extraterres­ trial theories and had tried to find natural explanations. Key­ hoe had contended that UFOs came from outer space and that the Air Force knew about them. Then Scully had said that the Air Force not only knew about them but had actu­ ally captured some. The public immediately linked Scully to Keyhoe. This basic confusion between legitimate UFO theory (that the objects might be extraterrestrial ) and the Scully brand of hoax was to plague UFO investigators from this time on. Keyhoe, meantime, was busily expanding his article for a book with the same title, The Flying Saucers A re Real ( 1 950) . In addition to the information in the article, the


52

The UFO Controversy in A merica

b ook contained some new ideas on the reasons for A ir Force secrecy. Keyhoe's b ook, like his article, was based on conjec­ ture, personal opinions from unnamed scientists, some factual information, and a l arge amount of loose thinking. Because the Proj ect Grudge files were secret, Keyhoe had no way of knowing what was really h appening and was forced to rely on people's opinions, official press releases, and the little in­ formation he could get out of his friends in the mil itary. For example, Keyhoe used the following conversation as a legiti­ m ate method of gaining information : "Charley, there's a rumor that airline pilots have been ordered not to talk," I told Planck. "You know anything about it?" "You mean ordered by the Air Force or the compa­ nies?" "The Air Force and the C.A.A." "If the C.A.A.'s in on it, it's a top level deal," said Charley.48 Keyhoe's "facts" seemed similar to Scully's "facts," and many critics failed to see any difference at all. Because Keyhoe tried to get information but could not, he became more concerned with the secrecy aspect than with ex­ planations for UFOs. Keyhoe concluded that the Air Force was "badly worried" when witnesses first reported UFOs in 1 947. The Air Force knew "the truth" about Mantell's death, he said, and had established its investigatory agencies to conceal the truth about UFOs from the publ ic. The Air Force changed this policy in the spring of 1 949 and "decided to let facts gradually leak out, to prepare the American pub­ lic." This, explained Keyhoe, was why the Project Sign report included a section on the feasibility of extraterrestrial visita­ tions and why the Air Force had accepted his True article as part of its "public education program. " But the Air Force misinterpreted the unexpected public reaction to the article as evidence of hysteria and began to deny the existence of sau­ cers.4D Keyhoe's Air Force secrecy angle late r provided him with the basis for three more books and the impetus for es­ tablishing a large national UFO organization. By 1 950 other people also were speculating about the origin of the flying saucers , and the parade of expl anations continued. David Lawrence's U.S. News and World Report featured an articl e that purported to solve the flying saucer

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The Modern Era Begins

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mystery once and for all. The article said flying saucers were real and "top Air Force officials know where the saucers originate and are not concerned about them." The reason for this lack of concern was that the saucers were actually navy secret weapons, the old Flying Flapjack XF-5-U- 1 that Proj­ ect Sign had investigated and found abandoned in 1 942. This article appeared at the same time that commentator Henry J. Taylor made a similar statement on a national radio broad­ cast. Although the Air Force denied the story, the old secret weapon theory revived for a short time. Newsweek printed this story under the heading "Delusions." Despite these ex­ planations for UFOs, by May 1 950 reports hit an all-time peak and came into AMC at the rate of about seventeen a month.50 The Air Force still tried to downplay the entire UFO phe­ nomenon. Newsmen even asked President Truman about UFOs, and he seriously denied ever having seen one. White House Press Secretary Charles G. Ross, in April 1 9 50, said the Air Force's final report on the subject "was so conclusive" that the project closed down. When the New York Times asked Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson about the flying saucers, the question, as the reporter put it, "brought grins from the man who ought to know." Later a Department of Defense press officer said the Air Force had no intention of reopening Project Saucer. 51 In January 1 95 1 the Air Force for the second time cooper­ ated with someone writing an article of UFOs. Columnist Bob Considine, in Cosmopolitan magazine, made the most vicious attack to date on "believers." Project Grudge person­ nel allowed Considine to see certain classified documents in the Pentagon and at AMC and to interview Air Force of­ ficers. In ''The Disgraceful Flying Saucer Hoax," Considine characterized people who saw flying saucers as "true believ­ ers," "gagsters," "screwballs," members of the "lunatic fringe," and victims of "dementia," "cold war jitters," "mass hypnotism," "hallucinations," and "mirages." The whole UFO issue was "purely idiotic," and saucers "wholly nonexistent." Considine interviewed Air Force Director of Intelligence Colonel Harold E. Watson, who said that the entire sad affair was simple "nonsense." Not only that, added Considine, but it cost "the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money-for nothing."52 ( One of the private citizens mentioned in the ar­ ticle sued Considine for libel. In 1 9 54 a judge ruled in favor of Considine. Although the judge admitted that the article


54

The UFO Controversy in A merica

wa.S libelous, he believed that the part directly related to the plaintiff could not be construed as such.li3 ) One month after the Considine article, Time magazine an­ nounced that all UFOs were actually Skyhook balloons, a theory widely accepted for a time. But Dr. Anthony Marachi, an Air Force chemist, argued that the Skyhook theory led people to a false sense of security because, in actuality, a for­ eign power launched the saucers. Marachi recommended that the United States identify the foreign power before Ameri­ cans experienced another Pearl Harbor.ll4 By the summer of 1 9 5 1 Project Grudge had so drastically reduced its staff that only one person, a lieutenant, served as investigator. The large number of sightings in 1 950 gave way to a substantial decrease. in 1 9 5 1 . In April, May, and June of 1 9 5 1 , only seventeen sightings were reported to AMC.65 It ap­ peared that the Air Force, after eighteen months of effort, had finally succeeded in its camp aign to eliminate UFO reports and reduce the mystery surrounding the phenomenon.

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THE 1 9 5 2 WAVE: EFFOR TS TO MEET THE CRISIS

In 1 952, after a dormant p eriod of nearly two years, the Air Force again found itself plagued with the unidentified fly­ ing object mystery. The Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC ) , formerly the Intelligence D ivision of the Air Materiel Command, received the most sighting reports ever recorded- 1 5 0 1 for the year. Many were concurrent radar and visual reports from Air Force pilots and radar personnel. In an attempt to meet the challenge, ATIC authorized the re­ organization of Project Grudge, and eventually the Air Force gave it a more prestigious position in the official hierarchy. Under the leadership of Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the proj­ ect staff designed and instituted plans to systematically study the UFO phenomenon. It sought the assistance of engineers, physicists, and astronomers, among others, implemented new and more efficient reporting procedures, contracted for a com­ puter-based study of reported UFO characteristics, made plans to study UFO maneuver p atterns, and developed special radar and photographic detection methods. This up­ surge in activity resulted in renewed press and public interest in the phenomenon and a concomitant change in Air Force press policy. The year 1 952 marked the high point of the Air Force's UFO investigation and the beginning of styles of thought that dominated the Air Force's attitude toward UFOs until 1 969. A dramatic sighting on September 10, 1 95 1 , stimulated the Air Force to revitalize and bolster the dormant project. A T-3 3 pilot and his passenger, an Air Force major, saw what appeared to be an unidentified flying object over the Fort Mon­ mouth, New Jersey, area. The witnesses described an object 55


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

thirty to fifty feet in diameter, round, silver, nonreflecting, and flat, which hovered below the plane. The pilot dived in an attempt to intercept it but failed. The object hovered for a short time, flew south, made a 1 20-degree tum, and contin­ ued on its way out to sea. At this same time a radar operator at the Army Signal Corps radar center (Fort Monmouth ) was demonstrating radar equipment to a group of visiting Air Force officers. He picked up a fast moving object above the center and tracked it at speeds from 400 to 700 miles per hour; but the object was so erratic and fast that the operator lost it. The next day Fort Monmouth radar once again picked up unidentified flying objects with the same maneuver pat­ terns. This time, however, the objects disappeared and re­ turned several times and moved so fast that the radar opera­ tors could not track them automatically.1 According to Ruppelt, the sightings caused a sensation at Fort Monmouth. An Air Force major and a group of officers had witnessed either the objects or their radar returns. The astonished radar operators wrote to ATIC, Ruppelt said, re­ questing an investigation. The director of Air Force intelli­ gence, Major General C. B. Cabell, saw a copy of the letter and requested more information about the Air Force's UFO program. He dispatched Lieutenant Jerry Cummings (head of Project Grudge ) and his superior, Lieutenant Colonel N. R. Rosengarten ( chief of the aircraft and missiles branch of ATIC) to Fort Monmouth to investigate. Cumming s and Rosengarten completed the investigation, tentatively classifying the objects as balloons and anomalous propagation (freak radar returns caused by unusual atmo­ spheric conditions ) , and then they briefed General Cabell and his staff on the general status of the UFO project. Cum­ mings related the history of the Air Force program, its short­ comings, and its current status; he explained that reputable persons reported UFO sightings to Project Grudge at a steady rate. Apparently convinced of the legitimacy of the problem, and with no publicity or fanfare, General Cabell ordered ATIC to launch a new UFO project.2 Since the Air Force had just released Cummings from active duty, Rosengarten appointed Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, a decorated World War ll bombardier, to hearl the project. Ruppelt, who had a reputation as a good organizer, had just been reactivated from the reserves because of the Korean conflict and was assigned to ATIC as an intelligence officer. He had a layman's interest in the subject and had familiar-


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ized himself with Grudge before his appointment. In late Sep­ tember 1 9 5 1 he set to work. First he read all the old Grudge and Sign records. Then he filed and cross-indexed every Sign and Grudge UFO report accOJ;ding to an object's color, size, location, and time of sighting. The cross-indexing helped his staff to determine general characteristics of the reports and to compile statistical data. Although the Air Force gave Ruppelt some clerical aid, the process was slow.a Being familiar with the factionalism that had permeated previous UFO projects, Ruppelt resolved to avoid such con­ flicts if possible. He made clear that open speculation or ar­ gument about the origins of unidentified flying objects or the legitimacy of the reports was taboo and even ousted several staff members who advocated one theory or another. Ruppelt was determined to reserve judgment until his staff processed all available information. As part of his reorganization, Rup­ pelt arranged for his staff to write a classified report each month on current specific investigations and on the overall status of the project.4 He appointed Dr. J. Allen Hynek, al­ ready an Air Force consultant in astronomy, as chief scien­ tific consultant to Project Grudge and placed h im on Air Force contract. Sensing the need for increased scientific help on UFOs, Ruppelt actively sought the cooperation of other interested scientists in return for briefings on the UFO situa­ tion. One of Ruppelt's first problems was obtaining fresh UFO reports, because the Air Force had no routine way of quickly gathering them. Even reports from Air Force servicemen came in haphazardly and sometimes after a delay of up to two months. Consequently, the investigators found it difficult to obtain information that was fresh in the minds of witnesses. In addition to delays, the Project Grudge staff also encountered a serious ridicule problem. In an informal survey of Air Force pilots, Grudge found them reluctant to report UFO sightings because of possible ridicule from the press and from their fellow pilots and officers. O ne pilot summed up the attitude well : "If a space ship flew wing-tip to wing-tip formation with me, I would not report it." The Project Grudge staff worried that if an unconventional vehicle with extraordinary performance and characteristics appeared, "its detection would be h ampered by the reluctance to report sightings."5 To overcom e delay and ridicule, Ruppelt sought a com­ . pulsory method of reporting UFOs quickly and routinely.


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Th e UFO Controversy in A merica

First, to speed up the reporting process, he requested a revi­ sion of the existing Air Force directive. Then he and his staff intensively briefed Air Force officers to acquaint them with the UFO situation and to show that the Air Force now treated UFO reports seriously. Ruppelt also recognized the need for a standardized questionnaire for UFO reports, hoping it would alleviate the imprecision and random quality that had characterized previous reports; the Air Force agreed to contract with Ohio State University to develop such a form. In addition, finding that newspapers carried many sighting reports not sent to ATIC, Ruppelt subscribed to a clipping service.s One of Ruppelt's most ambitious projects in late 1 9 5 1 was to obtain a statistical study of reported UFO characteristics. Although he did not expect such an analysis to reveal the origin of the UFO phenomenon, he did believe it would yield valuable data. Accordingly, the Air Force contracted the study to the B attelle Memorial Institute, a private research organization. Ruppelt's final project in 1 9 5 1 was based on a suggestion from General Cabell. He thought electronic means of UFO detection might be valuable and suggested that radar used in conjunction with photographic equipment could help detect UFOs. Project Grudge immediately sought to imple­ ment this idea. 7 Although Project Grudge made progress and seemed to en­ joy Air Force favor, it lacked sufficient funds to do its work well. The Air Force gave Ruppelt a few people to help with investigations and some clerical staff for the office, but thor­ ough investigation of more than a few monthly reports was still impossible. Even when a staff member, usually Ruppelt, conducted a field investigation, lack of money frequently pre­ vented him from following up all leads. Investigators often had to pay for their own transportation to and from an inves­ tigation site when military transportation was unavailable. Similarly, the Air Force would not give Ruppelt funds for a rel ated materials l ibrary; to help out, Hynek volunteered to buy the books with m oney from his own Air Force contract. The monetary difficulties indicated Grudge's continuing low priority in spite of its buildup . a Six months after Ruppelt began his reorganization of Grudge, the Air Force decided that the project deserved more support. Ruppelt's aggressive briefing policy, his basic or­ ganizing procedures, and an incre ase in the number of sight­ ings during the first three months of 1952 prompted the Air


The 1 952 Wave

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Force to promote Grudge from a p roj ect within a group to a separate organization. The Air Force changed the code name to Project Blue Book and gave it the formal title of the Aerial Phenomena Group.9 Normally a change of this nature would mean a change in leadership as well ; an officer with the rank of colonel or higher usually h eaded a group. Rup­ pelt, however, bad been so effective that the Blue Book divi­ sion chief, Colonel Donald B ower, decided to retain him as project director. Ruppelt also received new help : ATIC's electronics group, analysis group, radar section, and investigating group now worked directly under Project Blue Book; and because of the contractual arrangements for the statistical study and the questionnaire, the scientists at B attelle Memorial Institute and Ohio State University could also help Ruppelt directly. Around this time, Joseph Kaplan, a University of California at Los Angeles physicist and a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, visited the new project at Wright­ Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He bad come up with a good idea. Realizing that accurate measurements of any UFO were essential but difficult to obtain , Kaplan sug­ gested an analysis of the color spectrum of an object by use of a special diffraction grid placed over the lens of a camera. When an unidentified flying object came into view, the camera photograph would put the spectrum on film and the staff could compare the object's spectrum with those of known objects ( such as meteors and stars ) to determine whether the object was unknown. ATIC and Blue Book were enthusiastic about this plan, and for the remainder of 1952 Kaplan and Air Force scientists tested possible d iffraction grids and cameras for su itab ility under all conditions.1o With Kaplan's plan in the development stage, Ruppelt de­ cided to act on General Cabell's radarscope suggestion. He contacted the Air Defense Command, which h ad about thirty radarscope cameras around the country, and specially briefed its top officers as well as the Joint Air Force Defense Board ; they agreed to work out plans for Blue Book to use the cameras. Ruppelt also briefed the scientists at the Cambridge Research Laboratory ( the Beacon Hill Group ) who were Air Force technical advisers. They suggested that special sound equipment, left unattended in areas of h igh UFO activity, might be a useful and inexpensive detecti ng device. Also, the Pentagon, wanting to be informed of Blue B ook's activities, assigned M aj or Dewey Fournet as Pentagon liaison man.


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

Fournet was a party to all major developments, investiga­ tions, projects, and theories that came out of Blue Book dur­ ing 1 952, and he acted as the Pentagon's chief source of information from the project.n As well as giving Ruppelt and Project Blue Book more au­ thority, the Air Force implemented Ruppelt's proposed change in UFO reporting methods. On April 5 it issued Air ' Force Letter 200-5 ( published on April 2 9 ) directing the in­ telligence officer on every Air Force base in the world to tele­ gram preliminary sighting reports to ATIC and all major Air Force commands immediately and then to write a more detailed report and mail it to ATIC. A copy of these reports also went to the Air Force director of intelligence in Wash­ ington. Furthermore , the new directive allowed the Blue Book staff to communicate directly with any Air Force base or unit without going through the normal chain of command.12 This new reporting method resulted in ATIC receiving reports quickly and gave Blue Book more control than it ever had before : the intelligence officers had to report all sightings, and Blue Book staff members could decide, on the basis of preliminary information, which reports to investigate immedi­ ately. Two days before issuing Air Force Letter 200-5, the Air Force publicly announced that it was still studying UFOs and would continue as long as some sighting reports remained unexplained. It also alerted all Air Force field commands to report UFOs. The press release warned, however, that the public should not interpret this action as meaning the Air Force had come to any conclusion about the subject.13 ATIC and the Pentagon also decided to cooperate with the press, replacing their "no comment" with the policy of explaining as much as possible to the public. Even before Project Grudge became Project Blue Book, the press had shown a renewed interest because of the num­ ber of sightings reported. The press's first test of the official cooperation policy came in the early part of March 1 952. Robert Ginna, a writer for Life magazine, visited ATIC to gather material for a feature article on UFOs, which he was writing with H. B . Darrach. They had already been to the Pentagon, where they received as much help as they needed . The Blue Book officers were especially cooperative, declassi­ fying sighting reports at Ginna's request. Blue Book wanted to arrange for copies of all the UFO reports Life received from its reporters around the world to be sent to the project.H

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Life published the Ginna and Darrach article in its April 7 issue. "Have We Visitors from Space?" was one of the most influential articles ever printed on UFOs, rivaling even the original Keyhoe True article. Ginna and Darrach explained that the Air Force used radar, jet interceptors, and photo­ graphic equipment in its study, and that it had no reason to believe flying saucers were hostile or a foreign power's weapons . Blue Book, they said, actively solicited sighting re­ ports from scientists, pilots, weather observers, and private citizens. The authors noted that discs, cylinders, and similar objects of geometrical form, luminous quality, and solid nature had been and might then be present in the earth's at­ mosphere. "These objects," the authors stated, "cannot be ex­ plained by present science as natural phenomena-but solely as artificial devices ·created and operated by a high intelli­ gence." No power on earth, they argued, could technologi­ cally duplicate the performance of the objects.l5 The article aired in some detail ten reports never before published, some of which ATIC declassified for the authors. Ginna and Darrach concluded that psychological aberrations, secret weapons, Russian weapons, Skyhook balloons, or atomic test results did not explain adequately these ten sight­ ings. To support their conclusions, they went to Dr. Walther Reidel, forme r chief designer and research director of rockets and missiles at Peenemiinde, Germany, who now worked for an aircraft company in California. Reidel said that earth material would bum up from the friction that the reported objects' maneuvers created and that human pilots could not withstand the centrifugal force. He interpreted the lack of jets or jet trails to mean that the UFOs used an unknown power source. "I am completely convinced," he said, "that they have an out-of-world basis. "1 6 Ginna and Darrach also included remarks from Dr. Mau­ rice A. B oit, a prominent aerodynamicist and mathematical physicist. Bait believed the circular design, while being im­ practical for earth's atmosphere, had significant advantages for space flight. "The least improbable explanation is that these things are artificial and controlled . . . . My opinion for some time has been that they have an extraterrestrial origin." Ginna and Darrach concluded by posing several questions : Where do they come from? Why are they here? What are their intentions? Are they benign? "Before these awesome questions, science-and mankind-can yet only halt in wonder. An-


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

swers may come in a generation--or tomorrow. Somewhere in the dark skies there may be those who know."n For the first time a national magazine of Life's stature had come close to advocating the extraterrestrial hypothesis, and reaction to the article was widespread. From April 3 to April 6 over 3 50 newspapers across the country mentioned the ar­ ticle. ATIC recieved 1 1 0 letters concerning the article, most of them about UFOs sighted over the past two years and the­ ories on the objects' origin, propulsion, and the like. Life itself received over 700 letters. When the press questioned the validity of the Life article, the Air Force did not, as in the past, issue a blanket denial. Instead, it stated that "the article is factual, but Life's conclusions are their own. "lS

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The New York Times, maintaining its consistently hostile attitude toward the extraterrestrial hypothesis, printed a re­ buttal to the Life article. New York Times science writer Walter Kaempffert complained that Ginna and Darrach were "uncritical. " He attacked the validity of some of the reports by citing inconsistencies and argued that most of the sighted objects were balloons, since they dated from the time of the old Skyhook b alloon project. Using information from the Grudge report, Kaempffert said the Air Force had accounted for 99 percent of all sightings and lacked sufficient informa­ tion on the other 1 percent. For Kaempffert, UFOs had as much reality as the Loch Ness monster. In a similar vein, a New York Times editorial suggested that the Grudge report should have put an end to all this nonsense once and for all. But "the idea was too fantastic to die. After all, the sea ser­ pent was with us for decades and it took several years before the Loch Ness monster was buried."19 Blue Book braced itself for a flood of reports as a result of , the Life article, assuming that its sensational nature would prompt people to see things in the sky. The day after the magazine appeared, ATIC received nine reports; the next day the reports dropped off.20 Yet the number of monthly reports did increase considerably, from the normal ten to twenty re­ ports in previous months to ninety-nine in April and then to seventy-nine in May,21 although Ruppelt could not attribute the increase to the Life article. One consequence of this increase and of the Life article was a surge of press inquiries to Blue Book, so much so that Ruppelt and his staff felt the inquiries interfered with their regular duties. To help out, the Air Force appointed a civil­ ian, Albert M. Chop, to handle all p ress relations through the


The 1 952 Wave

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Air Force Office of Public Information in the Pentagon. Chop received his information from Ruppelt directly and from the Pentagon liaison officer, Majo r Dewey Fournet. A second result of rising activity in Blue B ook was that Thomas K. Finletter, secretary of the Air Force, personally requested a briefing on UFOs. Afterward Finletter issued a press state­ ment saying that although there was no concrete evidence to prove or disprove the existence of the so-called flying saucers, a number of sightings remained that Air Force investigators could not explain. As long as this was true, Finletter stated, the Air Fqrce would continue to study UFO reports. 22 By June 1 9 52 Project Blue Book was a dynamic, ongoing organization. Ruppelt's briefing policy had m ade the UFO problem visible to many Air Force and military groups. The diffraction grid plan-, the radarscope plan, the new reporting directive, the Battelle Institute study, the Ohio State question­ naire project, and the monthly status reports all enhanced the prestige of Blue Book and indicated that the Air Force was working intensely and seriously on the UFO mystery. In June ATIC officially received 1 4 9 reports-more than in any previous month in h istory. The reports came from 1 nearly every section of the country. The Blue Book staff had all it could do to simply screen, classify, and ille them; Rup­ pelt had to discontinue the monthly status reports so that his staff could deal with all the sightings, and the Air Force tried to meet the growing number of reports by increasing Rup­ pelt's staff to four officers, two airmen, and two secretaries. But the staff still was able to investigate only a fraction of the cases and, in deciding whether a case warranted field investigation, had to rely more and more on the judgment of the base officer who sent in the reports.23 Air Force intelligence officers in the Pentagon became con­ cerned about the increase in reports and summ oned Ruppelt to Washington to give a special briefing to Director of Intelli­ gence General Samford, members of his staff, intelligence of­ ficers from the navy, and people Ruppelt claimed he could not name ( possibly CIA members) . At the briefing some in­ telligence officers told Ruppelt that they were seriously con­ sidering the possibility that the UFOs were extraterrestrial. They directed him to obtain more positive information of scientific value.24 Ruppelt hoped that the diffraction camera plan would fill this need and continued work on it with a new sense of urgency. With the upsurge in sighting reports: Harvard astronomer

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Donald H. Menzel outlined the solution to the UFO mystery in Look and Time. The key to the UFO problem, he said, was in mirages, reflections, ice crystals floating in clouds, re­ fraction, and temperature inversion ( the condition whereby a layer of cold air is sandwiched between layers of warm air) ; in fact, Menzel argued, temperature inversion could account for nearly all nighttime visual and radar sightings. To prove his point, Menzel conducted an experiment. He half filled a glass cylinder with benzene and floated a layer of acetone on the top ; the benzene acted as a layer of cold air and the ace­ tone as a layer of warm air ; the fluids simulated temperature inversion. He then shot a beam of light through the cylinder, and the light curved down as the layers of solution bent it; he agitated the cylinder and the light seemed to move. Thus he accounted for the source of a saucer and its · movements. The temperature inversion theory was most appropriate, he said, for desert sightings where. "saucer reports are more frequent" and to explain radar returns of UFOs. Menzel concluded : "I believe that these saucers will eventually vanish-most appro­ priately, into thin air, the region that gave birth to them." He felt sad because saucers were a "frightening diversion in a jittery world." Menzel thought he was bravely acting as the re­ alistic, scientific debunker, and described himself as the man "who shot Santa Claus."211 In July Look followed its Menzel article with one by J. Robert Moskin who, like Darrach and Ginna, had been to ATIC and had received full cooperation from the Blue Book staff. 26 Moskin quoted Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vandenberg as saying the Air Force would continue to study the phenomenon as long as unexplained sightings existed; Vandenberg warned that "with the present world unrest, we cannot afford to be complacent." Moskin described Blue Book's radar and diffraction grid plans, the sound equipment idea, and alluded to the Battelle study. Although personnel at key atomic installations around the country had sighted UFOs, he noted, there was no evidence that the saucers were spying on or threatening the atomic programs. "But," he hinted darkly, "this fear still lies deeply in some responsible minds. "27 Moskin made an important point in his article. He described how intelligence men had attempted to correlate sightings with societal events, such as war tensions, atomic tests, and publicity about flying saucers. "They offer no pat­ tern," he concluded, "no explanation that satisfied the ex-

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perts. And long ago the Air Force gave up the easy idea that all the excitement is just the result of mass hysteria." Moskin

stated that the Air Force felt sure the solution to the problem was either misinterpretation of conventional objects, optical phenomena ( as Menzel described ) , man-made objects, or ex­ traterrestrial objects. Even though Ruppelt said there was no direct indication that the objects were a threat to national se­ curity, Moskin concluded, "that doesn't mean they are not a potential threat. " 28 In July ATIC received 5 3 6 reports, more than three times the number received in June. They came in steadily from all over the country and peaked on July 2 8 , when ATIC re­ ceived nearly fifty reports on that one day. The situation as­ sumed near panic proportions. The Blue Book staff thought . the country was in the midst of a full-scale flying saucer scare, mainly as a result of the Time, Life, and Look articles. However, the staff could find no evidence to substantiate this idea; in fact, it found that. except for the increase a few days after the Life article, the number of reported sightings was about the same immediately before the articles appeared as immediately afterward, on a daily basis. To help meet the challenge of the mass of reports, ATIC received the cooper­ ation of the Air Weather Service to try quickly to learn if a sighted object was a weather balloon or a temperature inver­ sion. Project Blue Book stopped issuing monthly reports and the entire staff worked on screening and filing the reports, some staff members working a sixteen-hour day. The Pen­ tagon liaison officer, Major Dewey Fournet, began working full-time to keep the Pentagon informed about all the re­ ports.29 During these hectic summer months a series of sensational and important sightings occurred over Washington, D.C. On July 10 the crew of a National Airlines plane saw a strange, bright light just south of Washington in Quantico, Virginia. On July 1 3 another air crew spotted an unusual object about sixty miles south of the capital ; the object came directly up to the plane from below, hovered for a few minutes, and then flew straight up at a tremendous speed. On July 14 a Pan American Airlines crew reported seeing eight UFOs near Newport News, Virginia. The next day observers on the ground reported a UFO in the same area. s o On July 1 9 and 20, between 1 1 : 40 P.M. and 3 : 00 A.M., a group of unidentified flying objects appeared on two radar­ scopes at the Air Route Traffic Control Center at Washington


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National Airport.81 The objects moved slowly at first, ab out � . · 1 00 to 1 30 miles per hour, and then shot away at "fantastic speeds. " During this same time, several airliner crews reported ' l seeing mysterious lights moving erratically up, down, and · sideways ; the objects slowed down, speeded up, and hovered. The visual sightings corresponded with the radar returns. Early th at m orning Chief Radar Controller Harry Barnes , recommended an intercept. At 3 : 00 A.M. the Air Defense

Command scrambled two F-94 jet fighters. The squadron charged with protecting the capital from attack by air was usually stationed at Bolling Air Force B ase just across the Po­ tomac, about two miles from the Capitol building. Earlier that d ay, however, the Air Force had secretly moved the squadron a hundred miles away to New Castle County Air­ port in Wilmington, Delaware, becau se of runway repairs at Bolling. It took the jets about half an hour to get from New Castle to the Washington National Airport area. When the jets finally arrived, the Air Route Traffic Control _Center veetored them to the targets' positions, but the objects disap-

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peared as the jets n eared, and the pilots were unable to make visual con�act.82 At the same time, people on the ground re­ ported seeing strange lights making erratic maneuvers. (There are indications that other airline pilots saw the objects but were reluctant to file reports for fear of ridicule. ) Some of the obj ects had appeared over the restricted air corridors above the White House and the Capitol.

During the night radarscopes continued to track targets in the Washington, D.C., area. At one time all three radar in­ stallations at Washington N ational Airport, and also those at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, picked up the same

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targets three miles north of the city. Early in the morning the Air Route Traffic Control Center at Washington National

Airport called Andrews Air Force B ase to report it had a tar­ get that appeared to be directly over the Andrews' radio tower. The radio operators rushed out and saw "a huge fiery­ orange sphere" hovering directly above them. The press swamped AI Chop, the Pentagon public information officer, with inquiries ; he said he could not comment until the Air Force had studied the situation. The Air Force refused to admit that it had scrambled a jet interceptor.ss Events calmed down until the following weekend . On July 26, at 1 0 : 30 P.M., Air Route Traffi c Control Center radar once again picked up unidentified flying objects. Tracking began immediately. A half hour later the Air Force command

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post in Highlands, New Jersey, scrambled jets still at New Castle Airport to intercept the objects. As on the previous weekend, the objects disappeared from the radar screens when the fighters arrived ; the pilots saw nothing and returned to the b ase. As soon as the targets disappeared from the ra­ dar screens, people in Newport News, Virginia, began to re­ port unidentified flying objects-bright lights rotating and emitting alternating colors. A few minutes later Langley Air Force Base in Virginia saw a str,ange light and ordered an­ other jet scramble. It vectored the jet to the object. The pilot spotted the light but, as before, it disappeared "like somebody turning off a light bulb" when he attempted to approach it. The j et did m anage to obtain a radar lock-on to the invisible target for a few minutes.s4 When the jet retu rned to Langley Field, the targets reap­ peared over Washington. Once again officers at the traffic control center at Washington National Airport ordered jets to investigate. This time, however, the returns stayed on the rad­ arscopes even after the jets entered the area. A game of tag ensued. Each time the jets were able to get close enough to the targets for close-range observation, the objects sped away. At one point in the chase a p ilot noticed the lights were sur­ rounding his plane and nervously asked the ground control­ lers what to do. Before they could answer, the lights moved away from the plane and left the area. After twenty minutes of fruitless chasing, the jets ran low on fuel and returned to base. The pilots bad seen only lights in the sky. AI Chop and Dewey Fournet watched the radarscope s during the entire chase sequence. During this same time the radar operators noticed weather targets, the results of a mild one-degree tem­ perature inversion surrounding the Washington area. The operators claimed that they could easily tell the diffe rence between the actual targets and the returns from this week temperature inversion.s5 These Washington sightings were the most sensational to occur since the Mantell incident in 1 948. They made bead­ lines around the country, even replacing front-page news of the Democratic National Convention in many newspapers. At 1 0 : 00 A.M. on the morning after the sightings, presidential aide Brigadier General Landry, at the request of President Truman, called intelligence authorities in Dayton, Ohio, to find out what was happening in the skies over Washington. Ruppelt took the call and personally briefed Landry on the phenomenon. Later Ruppelt learned that Truman had been


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

tified Pentagon spokesman (probably Chop ) told the Wash- .�� · ington Post that the Air Force was "fairly well convinced" the objects were not a menace to the country. While the Air Force could not discount the extraterrestrial hypothesis, it leaned toward the theory that the objects represented a new kind of physical phenomenon about which it knew very little. ­ "One thing I would like to do," the spokesman said, "is dispel 1 the belief of some that we are holding something back. We are not."87 The Pentagon and Blue Book were swamped with press and congressional inquiries about the UFO situation. So many calls came into the Pentagon alone that its telephone circuits were completely tied up with UFO inquiries for the . next few days . The Air Force was keenly aware of the dan- gers involved in jamming communications in the military's . nerve center. As A1 Chop said later, the Air Force "had to do 1: something to keep the people quiet."38 It decided to hold a press conference to allay fears ·and rumors. On July 29, 1 9 52, . the Air Force held the longest and largest press conference · : since World War II. The spokesman at the conference were Major General John A. Samford ( director of Air Force intel­ ligence ) , M ajor General Roger A. Ramey ( chief of the Air Defense Command ) , Colonel Donald L. Bowers ( ATIC's chief of the Technical Analysis Division ) , Ruppelt, several 11 civilian electronics experts, and radar expert Captain Roy L . James, who knew about the Washington sightings only from newspaper reports. Samford headed the conference. He said the Air Force was . reasonably well convinced that the radarscope sightings on J 1: the past two weekends were the result of temperature inversions ( one of Menzel's solutions ) ; the radar equipment had 1 picked up ground lights reflecting off a layer of cold air be- 1 1 tween two l ayers of warm air. Captain James supported this : by provid ing technical details on temperature inversions. " Samford then explained that the Air Force was planning to call in outside scientists to examine the Washington sightings more closely ( there is no evidence it ever did this ) . He said 1 the diffraction grid scheme, still in the planning stage, had \ top priority and would help in gaining accurate scientific J measurements of the objects. The Air Force could not ac- . count for the fact, Samford admitted, that some of the airline pilots had actually seen the objects. No astronomer had ever 1 seen a flying saucer, he claimed, but the Air Force had re- '

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ceived a certain number of reports of unknown objects from "credible observers of relatively incredible things" ; these un­ knowns constituted about 20 percent of the total reports. Fi­ nally Samford explained that none of the UFOs seemed to be a threat to the national security. Although all the participants at the conference seemed to agree, Ruppelt later said that Dewey Fournet and a navy radar expert, who were both in the radar room during the July 26 sightings, were not invited to attend the conference because they did not subscribe to the temperature inversion theory.a9 The news conference had a soothing effect on the nation's press. Most reporters and editors fully accepted the Air Force's version of the events on July 19 and 26. The sightings also prompted another round of the urge to explain. The New York Times volunteered the information that the Air Force press statements in the Samford news conference were the result of its analysis of "the thousands of plausible reports of apparitions that have poured in during the last six years." Radar detected the objects over Washington, the New York Times explained, because it could not distinguish between birds, ribbons of tinsel, cellophane, and rain. The newspaper suggested that the Air Force should continue studying UFOs only because it could gain knowledge about meteorological conditions. Bill Lawrence, writing in the New York Times, asserted that the explanation for the UFOs should be sought in the realm of mass psychology rather than in scientific legit­ imacy. Taking a similar stance, the Christian Science Monitor chalked up the sightings to inadequately understood natural phenomena and "the vagaries of the human mind." The American people had problems enough, the paper said, with­ out worrying about either "heterogeneous oddities which so far display no menace or outbreaks of fancy without credible foundation." Herbert B. Nichols, a special correspondent for the Monitor, explained that the public remained interested in flying saucers because it loved a mystery and "why spoil it?"40 The Baltimore Sun compared flying saucers with the Loch Ness monster and the British "silly season." The reason Americans saw more flying saucers was that America was a larger country and had a longer silly season. The Milwaukee Journal explained that it took very little imagination to see a flying saucer, and if imagination were not enough, " a little al­ coholic stimulation will help ." Writer Elliot Lawrence, in an article in Coronet magazine, interviewed a m an who had once witnessed a secret demonstration of a saucerlike craft;


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the inventor had blueprints for a spaceship that could "skip ' through the air like a fiat stone. " The witness did not know where the inventor was at present but thought he had gone to the Soviet Union before the war and was still there. There­ fore, the saucers were probably Russian secret weapons.41 Some of the p ress was not so enthusiastic about the confer­ ence. The Washington Post, which h ad been in on the inner workings of the Washington sightings, decided upon a wait­ and-see att itude. It criticized Menzel's theories : radar had "detected twelve different objects" and the radar sightings were the most impressive to date. "The best advice at th is point," the Washington Post said, "would be to keep your mind open and your fingers crossed. '' The Denver R ocky Mountain News found the Air Force's inabil ity to identify the origin of UFOs "incredible" and "terrifying.'' The News suggested that the Air Force tell the public if these were mili­ tary secret weapons ; if the Air Force was unable to identify the objects, then "it should not boast about its scientific and military advances until it comes up with the right answer.''42 C. B. Allen, columnist for the New York Tribune, expressed a minority viewpoint : the Samford news confer­ ence "had gone far toward its obvious purpose of debunking the whole snow-balling phenomenon of 'Flying Saucers.' " Drew Pearson believed the news conference was important because the Air Force had admitted for the first time that personnel had recorded radar and observational data at the same time, and he implied that the objects could be from an­ other planet. Life magazine also noted that the A ir Force had admitted concurrent radar, ground, and observational sight­ ings. A Life reporter had asked the Air Force about the jet interceptors that it had originally denied dispatching; after a confrontation, the Air Force admitted to th e jet action but made no other comment. The Life reporter posited that per­ haps the Air Force had "known more about the blips than it admitted. "43 The Washington sightings also prompted a full expression of the urge to expl ain among scientists. Physician Edgar Mauer, writing in Science, believed it was time to examine the problem of the existence of saucers in physiological spheres "other than the psyche," since scientists had not been able to come up with a plausible explanation . Mauer's analy­ sis : "flying disks are motes in the eyes of a dyspeptic micro­ cosm or perhaps some abnormal cortical discharges in the migrainous.'' Professor C. C. Wylie, head of the astronomy

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department at the University of Iowa, said "the object" over Washington was the planet Jupiter. Unless the Air Force gave the complete answer to the sightings in clear astronomical terms, Wylie argued, "belief in visitors from outer space will be strengthened in those who cannot distinguish between speculation and scientific reasoning." The distinguished Dr. Gerard Kuiper, head of the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, s aid the objects were weather b alloons.44 Dr. Jessie Sprowls, professor of abnormal psychology at the University of Maryland, told the country in a radio inter­ view that the reports were the product of hallucination. His advise was "Just sort of forget about it. " Dr. Horace Byers, chairman of the meteorology department at the University of Chicago, attributed the sightings to "junk" in the skies, such as b alloons, meteors; reflections, clouds, and the like. "I know of no reputable scientist who places any credence in reports that so-called flying saucers come from a mysterious or unex­ plained source," he said. Dr. Otto Struve, University of Cali­ fornia astronomer, explained that the evidence for the reality of flying saucers "appears to be completely negative to an as­ tronomer." Dr. I. M. Levitt, director of the Pels Planetarium in Philadelphia, agreed with the inversion theory and said the sightings were due to mirages and temperature inversions. Dr. Donald Menzel asserted again that the sightings would disap­ pear "when the present hot spell is over. " Even Einstein had an opinion about the flying saucers. When a Los Angeles evangelist asked him to comment, Einstein replied : "These people have seen someth ing. What it is I do not know and I am not curious to know. "45 While the major wave of sightings was in progress, in the summer of 1 9 52, Dr. J. Allen Hynek d iscreetly polled for the Air Force forty-four astronomers around the country on their views about UFOs. He found that 5 percent claimed to have seen a UFO. This, Hynek explained, was understandable be­ cause they spent more time watching the skies than most people; however, astronomers also could discriminate between what was unusual and what was not. In probing their atti­ tudes toward the subject, Hynek found that 1 6 percent were completely indiffe rent, 27 percent mildly indifferent, 40 per­ cent mildly interested, and 1 7 percent very interested. Most of them believed that UFO reports could be explained as misidentifications of conventional objects. But when Hynek took the time to explain the exact nature of the phenomenon and to describe some of the more puzzling cases, "their inter-


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est was almost immediatel y aroused, indicating that their gen- , eral lethargy is due to lack of inform ati on." Hynek al so ; found an "overwhelming fear o f p ubli c i ty . " A newspaper headline to the effect of "Astronomer Sees A Flying Saucer" would be "enough to brand the astronomer as questionable among his colleagues." Hynek concluded that most astrono­ mers were not ·actually h ostile to the subject but did not want to be com e involved b ecause of publicity and the tenuous and u nreliabl e nature of the d ata.46 The Washington sightings m arked the high-water point of the 1 952 wave. ATIC received 326 re p orts in August, down 2 1 0 from the July total. The Blue Book staff concentrated on filing and screening. The monthly status reports remained sus­ pended but wo rk on the questionnaire, the statistics proj ect, and the diffraction grid continued. The UFO sightings had had an ominous effect on the mili­ tary. Not onl y was the Pentagon swamped with UFO in­ quiries and Blue Book immersed in a huge backlog of re­ ports, but air bases and installations arou nd the country were feeling the effects as well. On August 1 , 1952, the New York Times reported that the Air Force had been getting so many flying saucer inquiries that "regular intelligence work had been affected." An Air Force spokesman ( p robabl y Fournet ) re­ ported that o ne full-time man was already working on the press inquiries and still other people i n other dep artments had to answer some of the questions . The Christian Science Monitor said that C ap t ain F. R. Shafer, commanding officer of th e Air F orce Filter Center in South Bend, Indiana, was receiv­ ing so many UFO reports that he was forced to spend a few hours every day stu dying them. The same was true, the report said, for Captain Everett A. Turner of the Chicago Filter Center; his weekends had been hectic, devoted to screening and sending in his reports to Wash ington and ATIC. General Ramey appeared on the nationally televised CBS show "Man of the Week" a few d ays after the Washington news confer­ ence to answer questions about UFO reports. Essentiall y say­ i n g the same things that Samford had said at the conference, R amey also noted th at the Air Force was trying to come up with "fast answers" in order to avert hysteria.47 Perhaps Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vanden­ berg best summed up the ris ing feelings of m any Air Force officials in an interview with the Seattle Pos t ln telligencer After reiterating that UFOs were neither extraterrestrial , pro­ ducts of fo re ign technology, nor secret weapons, he bluntly -

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stated that he did not like the "continued, long-range occur­

� renee of what might be c alled mass hysteria about flying sau­

r, cers." He went on to say that "The Air Force h as had teams 1� of experts investigating all reports for several years, since the

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of World War II, and they h ave never found anything to substantiate the existence of such things as flying saucers. "48 Donald Menzel reflected this growing . Air Force attitude as well. Look quoted him on September 9 as saying once again ' that the UFOs in Washington, D . C. , were m irages. Menzel · had examined the case and decided that the reason both the · pilots and radar saw the same objects was that both were 1 "operating under the same meteorological conditions. " Fur­ thermore, Menzel reasoned, it was highly unlikely that the objects were extraterrestrial : if they have spaceships, then they probably have radio, and if they have radio, they would have contacted us. "If inter-planetary travelers came here they wouldn't hang around like ghosts ; they'd get off their ships and have a look at us. Wouldn't you on Venus?" Men­ zel remarked that the flying saucer scare could be d angerous "in the sense that if an enemy were to attack us tomorrow, it ' might take 24 hours for the people in the target area to make up their minds whether it really was a terrestrial enemy or · somebody from Venus."49 Although the 1 952 wave of sightings generated growing i anxiety, it also created more genuine i nterest. The increasing number of articles about UFOs seemed to h ave contributed to the interest; Ruppelt found that in a six-m onth period 148 newspapers carried 1 6,000 items about UFOs. Many previ­ ously skeptical people now wanted to know more about the phenomenon. As a result, some p rofessional people initiated projects to study the flying saucer reports. In Wisconsin a group of electronics engineers and technicians from a reserve unit of the Army Signal Corps set up Proj ect Vortex, the pur­ pose of which was to receive information about UFOs and to conduct research. The Wichita ( Kansas) Beacon organized thirty part-time reporters to be on "camera alert" for UFOs. Ohio Northern University initiated an independent UFO in­ vestigation that scientists at the university would conduct. In spite of the increased public interest in the phenomenon dur­ ing the summer months, the university stated, "little bas been done to adequately screen information and to aid in present­ ing a scientific appraisal of this phenomenon to the general public." Moreover, there was a need for a p rivate organiza­ tion to collect the data objectively and distribute the results


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of a careful study to the public. Ohio Northern hoped th at its proposed study would "lead to a more logical appraisal of phenomena ob served in all walks of life." With this an­ nouncement Ohio Northern began soliciting reports and worked on the d ata for the next year. 5o During 1 952 two private research groups came into being. The first was Civilian Saucer Investigation of Los Angeles, founded by Ed Sullivan, a technical writer for North Ameri­ can Aviation Corporation. The organization included scien­ tists from the Los Angeles area with Dr. Walther Reidel its

most prominent member. The second was the Aerial Phenom­ ena Research Organization ( APRO ) , formed by Coral Lorenzen, a private UFO researcher in Sturgeon B ay, Wis­ consin. B asically a collecting organization, APRO attempted to work independently of the Air Force and come to its own conclusion b ased on what evidence the group could amass. The organization published a b imonthly newsletter, The A .P.R.O. Bulletin.lil With small membership, these two or­ ganizations were the first m ajor independent groups es­ tablished for the specific purpose of looking into the UFO mystery. Professional organizations now b egan to take an interest in the subject. In October 1 952 the American Optical Society sponsored a symposium on UFOs and invited Drs. Hynek, Menzel, and Liddel ( o f th e Bendix Aviation Corporation and a member of the Atomic Energy Commission) to give papers before the society. In his paper, Menzel reiterated his familiar ­ theories of mirage, reflection, refraction, temperature inver­ sion, and the like. For Menzel these theories could explain all sighting reports that the Air Force now l isted as unknown. 52

Urner Liddel took a similar stance in his paper, "Phantas­ magoria or Unusual Observations in the Atmosphere." Frankly stating that he prepared the paper because "the na­ tion was in the throes of a flying saucer scare," he thought it worthwhile "to take any action which might alleviate the hys­ teria." Liddel's analysis was that "hucksters of science" caused much of the flying saucer scare. These people were mainly newspaper reporters who fed on the scare because it provided a "lucrative business." Liddel then attempted to ex­ pl ain some sightings, concluding that all reports basically stemmed from reflections, mirages, and psychological inade­ quacies. Furthermore, he argued, conditioned fear of atomic weapons and the secrecy surrounding them as wel l as the UFO sightings around atomic installations had contributed to


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current "mass hysteria." "Thus, just as ghosts are seldom seen outside [away from] ce � eteries or haunted houses, s . flying saucers are seen at pomts of greatest fear psychosts. to leading evidence "NO" of knew he that J Liddel concluded the extraterrestrial hypothesis and that all unexplained reports were due to insufficient scientific data.os Hynek took a diffe rent appro ach . He directly attacked ' Menzel's and Liddel's theories and for the first time departed ' publicly from his hostility to the idea that UFOs were not ordinary objects. The events of 1 952 had affected him. Instead of believing, as did m any Air Force people, that all UFO re­ ports were the result of hysterical publ ic reactions to illusions, Hynek slowly began to rethink this position in light of the quality and puzzling aspects of the reports. In his paper h e

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gave several examples of p articularly puzzling unexplained . cases. He reasoned that if the reports were not of natural phenomena, then an obligation existed to "demonstrate explic­ itly how . . . specific reports c an be explained in terms of b alloons, mirages, or conventional aircraft."o4 Hynek became the first scientist in the country to note the destructive effect of ridicule, and he emph asized that ridicule of witnesses and the phenomenon itself acted against scien­ tific interest in the subject: "nothing constructive is accom­ plished for the public at large-and for science in the long run-by mere ridicule and the impl ication that sightings are the products of 'birdbrains' and 'intellectual flyweights.' Ridicule is not part of the scientific method and people should not be taught that it is.'' Taking a more practical stance, he concluded that the UFO problem was one of "science-public-relations" in that the "chance has consistently been missed to demonstrate on a n ational basis how scientists can go about analyzing a problem." After the symposium Hy­ nek filed a report with Proj ect Blue B ook saying that the Lid­ del and Menzel papers were worthless ; the two men h ad not .

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studied the evidence or the literature and were not qualified to speak on the subject. Hynek felt his trip to the society was unproductive. 55 Some people in the Air Force were beginning to think Hy­ nek was right, that perhaps UFO reports did represent some­ thing unknown or even extraterrestrial. The Air Force's inves­ tigation of the Fort Monmouth incident-the September 1 95 1 sightings which were a m ajor influence in th e decision t o re­ organize Project Grudge-concluded that one of the four ma­ jor radar and visual reports, the one from the. T-33 p ilot, re-


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mained unexpl ained.56 Moreover, the official explanation for the Washington sightings, in spite of Samford's temperature · inversion statements, listed them as unknown. Project Blue Book consulted with scientists working on the Battelle statisti­ cal plan about Menzel's theories and they agreed that "none of the theories so far p roposed would account for more than a very small percentage of the reports, if any."57 Pentagon liaison officer Fournet wanted to look into the . . situation more closely. Mter meeting with Ruppelt and two . . Pentagon officers ( Colonels W . A . Adams and Weldon Smith ) , Fournet an!il the other three men decided to study the maneuvers and reported motions of the objects to deter­ mine whether they were under intelligent control. This idea had been around for some time, and the mass of data col­ lected in the summer now made such a study feasible. If the study showed that the objects moved in a definite . pattern ( rather than randomly ) , then the Air Force would 1 have to consider the extraterrestrial hypothesis a serious alter- ( native. Ruppelt and the Pentagon officers assigned the prob- · lem to Fournet, who began work on it immediately. 58 By the end of 1 952 the s ighting wave subsided . The frantic days of the p ast summer gave way to the routine of receiving an average of fifty reports each month for the last three . months of the year. The Air Force had taken in a record I number of 1,501 reports for the year-nearly twice the total j number of reports received during the previous five years. ' And yet despite this number, Ruppelt estimated that the Air Force received reports of only about 10 percent of the total I sightings in the country. 59 With the number of reports declining, Project Blue Book . resumed its prewave activities. It started issuing its status re-1· ports again. It sent the Ohio State University questionnaire !· ( completed i n October) to everyone who filed a report; this · greatly improved the quality of received reports. The B attelle Institute's statistical study also was progressing. The scientists · , decided to stop collecting data a t the e n d of 1 952, because they assumed that additional reports would yield similar data. , and they hoped to complete the ir study some time in 1 953. The diffraction camera plan was in the final stages of de­ velopment. ATIC and Dr. Kaplan h ad hit upon the idea of : using special two-lens Videon cameras, which could take ster-; i eoscopic p icture s ; ATIC planned to put a diffraction grid over one lens and le ave the other free to take a normal pic­ ture of a suspected UFO. The cameras were accurate, inex-

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pensive, and fairly s imple to operate. ATIC b egan to negoti­ ate in December with Air Defense Command headqu arters to place the cameras in air bases around the country and also to mount the grids on the lenses of F-8 6 gun c ameras to take pictures from the air.6o The groups cooperating with Blue Book also made progress. The Air Defense Command had nearly completed its radarscope plan and directed personnel to place all radar­ scope cameras on a twenty-four-hour alert. In addition, ADC made the Ground Observers Corps (a group of civilians who watched the skies for enemy planes that might h ave broken through the radar network) available to Blue Book and told the members to report any UFOs to ADC, which would then forward the reports to ATIC.61 The navy directed all naval units to report UFOs directly to Air Force headquarters, ATIC, or the Air Defense Command. The Air Weather Ser­ vice began to give full cooperation to Blue Book, supplying the project with d ata about weather conditions, balloons, inver­ sions, and the l ike. The year had been exceptionally hectic, and the Air Force breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of 1 9 52. The great mass of UFO reports h ad created a climate in which Fournet, Hynek, and others h ad begun to consider seriously the extraterrestrial hypothesis as one of many explanations for the sightings. But for others in i ntelligence circles the 1 952 sightings h ad the opposite effect. They firmly believed the reports signified only psychological manifestations . of a so­ ciety caught in the grips of a potentially dangerous scare. By 1 9 5 3 a growing number of people i n the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency began to think that-for reasons of n ational security-the number of UFO reports h ad better be reduced drastically, if not eliminated altogether.


4

I

THE ROB ERTSON PA NEL A ND ITS EFFECTS ON A IR FORCE UFO POLICY ·•

!

I" Official pol icy on UFOs switched dramatically in 1 9 5 3 . M-=� ter building its investigatory capacity in 1 952, Project Blu Book by the end of 1 9 5 3 could no longer adequately investi gate or analyze UFO reports and functioned mainly as a pub­ lic relations and collecting office . This change was due · · primarily to th e recommendations o f a group o f scientists who 11

formed the Robertson panel. The convening of this CIA sponsored panel was a p ivotal event in UFO h istory. AI though much of the information concerning the impetus for the p anel remains in CIA and Pentagon files and is therefore unavailable, sufficient inform ation is accessible to reconstruct most of the events leading to the Air Force's policy reversal. . ' The CIA became interested in the UFO phenomenon dur- · 1 ing the 1 952 wave of sightings.t The CIA and some highranking Air Force officers, including G enerals Vandenberg and Samford, thought the m ass of UFO reports might consti­ tute a threat to the n ational security. It was possible for the Soviet Union, or any other "enemy," to use UFOs as a decoy ' in preparation for an attack on the United States. It was possible that a deliberately confused American public might

think attacking enemy bombers were UFOs. At the least, a foreign power could exploit the flying s aucer craze to make th e public doubt official Air Force statements about UFOs and thereby undermine public confidence in the military• Moreover, the volume of sighting reports in 1 952 bad clogged normal military intelligence channels and this certainly would pose a danger during an enemy attack.2 With the information from the Battelle Memori.U Insti-

78

.

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Jl' I.

Th e Robertson Panel and

its Effects

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tttute's statistical study, it would be possible to assess the 1 ·dangers UFOs m ight represent. But a snag developed in the 1 1 plans. The B attelle Memorial Institute was not ready to � . present its findings. At a preliminary meeting i n early Decem­ fl ;ber 1 952, B attelle repre � entatives strongly re�ommended that CIA meetmg be p ostponed u ntil Battelle could ·. ii the proposed

1 1.make the results 0 problem was that

of its study available to ATIC. B attelle's the data it was working with were unrelil able, and it could not document what it felt should be sup­ ported by facts from the analysis. Sometimes critical informa­ tion was missing from a report, and even in a well-documented report an element of doubt always existed about the data because of its anecdotal n ature. This made positive identifica­

. tion of the reported obj ects difficult. Since the need for .precise data was important for identifi­ J cation, Battelle suggested that the Air force set up controlled experiments in areas of high UFO activity. These areas could be stocked with skywatch equipment ( radar, cameras, meas­ uring equipment, etc. ) . All conventional objects crossing the area would be known in advance. Th erefore, any uniden­ tified flying objects could be recognized at once by a simple process of elimination. Once B attelle had data from these controlled experiments, i t would apply the informatio n to past unidentified sightings and would lay the flying saucer controversy to rest once and for all. Furthermore , the Air Force would benefit from this experiment because it would then know just bow much attention t o p ay to a massive wave of sightings like the one just passed. The Air Force could make positive statements reassuring the public that the mili­ tary bad everything under control. But against Battell e's objections and m i ndful of th e poten­ tial threat to national security, the CIA decided to go forward. It convened a distinguished panel of nonmilitary sci­ entists to analyze the Blue B ook data. Five outstanding scien­ tists in the physical sciences, two associate panel members, and various Air Force and CIA representatives met from

Wednesday, January 14, to Saturday, January 1 7, 1 9 5 3 , in Washington, D . c.a Dr. H. P. Robertson, formerly at Princeton and th e Cali­ fornia Institute o f Technology and an expert in m athematics, cosmology, and rel ativity, ch aired the panel. At that time he was director of the Weapons System Evaluation Group in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and a CIA classified em­ ployee. Panel member Samuel A. Goudsmit, an associate of


80

The UFO Controversy in A merica

Einstein, discovered electron spin in 1 925 in Holland, helped found a school of theoretical physics, and headed a mission at the end of World War II to investigate the Germans' progress in developing the atomic bomb. In 1 95 3 he was on the physics staff of the Brookhaven N ational Laboratories. Luis Alvarez, a high-energy physicist, contributed to a mi­ crowave radar system and the atomic b omb and received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1 9 68. Thornton Page, former pro­

fessor of astronomy at the University of Ch icago, was a physicist at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory during World War II and in 1 9 53 was deputy director of the Johns Hopkins' Operations Research Office. Lloyd Berkner, the final panel member, had accompanied Admiral Byrd on the 1 928-30 Antarctic expedition, had been a physicist with the

Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, had headed the radar section of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, and had served as executive secretary of the De­ partment of Defense's Research and Development Board in World War II. Later he became special assistant to the secre­ tary of state and at the time of the panel was one of the I directors of the Brookhaven National Laboratories.-i Two associate panel members were J. Allen Hynek and Frederic C. Durant. Hynek was only invited to selected meet­ ings. Durant, an army ordance test station director, past president of the American Rocket Society, and president of the International Astronautical Federation, wrote the sum� mary of the proceedings. Also present were Ruppelt, Dewey Fournet, ATIC chief General W. M. Garland , Navy Photo Interpretation Laboratory representatives Lieutenant R. S. Neasham and Harry Woo, and CIA personnel : Dr. H. Mar­ shall Chadwell, Ralph L. Clark, and Philip G. Strong.5 The p anel convened on Wednesday without Lloyd Berkner, who did not arrive until Friday afternoon. It began to re­ viewing the CIA's interest in UFO s . Dr. Robertson requested that panel members investigate the reports according to their specialties. Fo r example, astronomer Thornton Page should focus on nocturnal lights and green fireballs and physicist Al­ varez on radar cases. Then the panel watched two color films,, both taken in daylight and showing maneuvering l ight sources in the sky. Nicholas Mariana had taken one movie in Great Falls, Montana, and navy Commander Delbert C. Newhouse the other in Tremonton, Utah. The Marian!!- film showed two, objects flying behind a building and a water tower. The Newhouse film, which the Air Force had kept classified,


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The Robm,on Panel and '" EfJecu

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showed twelve objects flying in loose formation through the sky. The Project Blue Book staff believed the films were among the best evidence it had to give credence to the ex­ traterrestrial intelligence hypothesis. 6 Ruppelt briefed the panel on Blue Book's metho d's of tracking down UFO reports. Hynek described the Battelle Memorial Institute study, which was still in progress. The panel discussed a few case histories and saw a special movie of sea gulls in flight that tried to duplicate the Newhouse ' firm. It then heard a report on Project Twinkle, the Air Force's attempt to decipher the green fireball mystery. Gen­ eral Garland spoke, explaining that more intelligence efforts coupled with better briefings should be used to sort and col­ lect UFO reports. He recommended declassifying reports · completely on a continuing basis and increasing ATIC's UFO analysis section. Later, Hynek outlined a skywatch program which might be an inexpensive adjunct to current astro­ nomical programs. Trained astronomers could photograph a UFO while doing other work through a program of this kind. Hynek suggested ten different observatories where Blue Book could implement this plan. 7 On Friday morning Dewey Fournet read a paper on re­ ported UFO movements, concluding that the extraterrestrial hypothesis might be the key to the mystery. Although impressed that Fournet had been with the UFO project for fifteen months and was an aeronautical engineer, the panel members could not accept his interpretation of what they per­ ceived as "raw, unevaluated reports." During the three days of examining Blue Book data, the panel reviewed eight cases in detail, fifteen in general, and saw two movies. It discussed tentative conclusions and recommendations on Friday after­ noon and commissioned Robertson to draft the final report. The members spent the next day correcting and altering the draft. The panel had spent a total of twelve hours studying the UFO phenomenon. The panel adjourned Saturday after­ noon, January 1 7, ending the most influential government­ sponsored, nonmilitary UFO investigation of the 1 9 50s. s Probably because of time limitations and the small number of reports the panel members examined, they disregarded ap­ parent anoinalistic evidence in certain UFO reports. For ex­ ample, the Navy Photograph Interpretation Laboratory spent 1 ,000 hours analyzing the Newhouse film and concluded that the objects in the firm were neither birds, balloons, aircraft, nor reflections; rather, they were "self-luminous." The labora-


82

The UFO Controversy in A merica

tory based its analysis on the assumption th at Newhouse's dis­ tance estimates were accurate. Rejecting this analysis, the panel members reasoned th at Newhouse probably was mis­

taken in his distance estimates. As S. A. Goudsmit said, "by assuming that the distance was less, the results could be ex­ plained as due to a formation of ducks or other birds, reflect­ ing the strong desert sunlight but being just too far and too

luminous to see their shape. This assumption yielded reason­ able speeds and acceleration!' The panel concurre d in the bird explanation. The panel used similar reasoning to inter­ pret the Mariana firm. Mariana saw two jet planes about to land at a nearby air base just before his sighting. He testified, however, that he knew the difference between -the planes and the objects. But because the jets and the two objects had ap- · peared near the same place at about the same time, the panel ! decided Mariana was mistaken and had taken a film of the · jets.9 After reviewing the data, the panel found no evidence that t UFOs represented a direct threat to the national security. The ; I Air Force's concern over UFOs ''was probably caused by · public pressure," due to the number of articles and books on the subject. Nevertheless, the panel warned that "having a military source foster public concern in 'nocturnal meander- . ing lights' " was "possibly dangerous." The implication was · that military interest in the objects might encourage people t ­ believe the objects were a potential threat to national se· · curity. The panel also concluded th at the reports represented ·

�j ;

little, if any, valuable scientific data; the material was "quite . irrelevant to hostile objects that might some day appear." As- : suming that visitors would probably come from our solar sys- : tern, Thornton Page noted that astronomical knowledge of ! the solar system made the existence of extraterrestrial intelli- ! gent beings extremely unlikely. Page also incorrectly assumed · that UFO reports occurred only in the United States, and the idea that extraterrestrial objects would visit only one country seemed "preposterous. " 1 0 Even though the panel did not believe UFOs were a direct

1

threat to the national security, it did find a potentially dan­ gerous threat in the reports. The panel commented that "the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena I does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic." The reports clogged military intelligence channels, might precipi- . tate mass hysteria, and might make defense personnel ' I

I

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The Robertson Panel and its Effects

83

misidentify or ignore "actual enemy artifacts." In language reminiscent of Project Grudge's recommendations, the panel found that the reports could make the public vulnerable to "possi bl e enemy ps ychological warfare" by cul tivati ng a "morbid national psychology in which skillful hostile propa­ ganda could induce hysterical b eh av io r and harmful distrust of duly constituted authority."ll At last the military had found the threat to national s ecurity-the UFO reports, not , the UFOs. The solution of the UFO problem now assumed another dimension. The real enemy h ad finally been id en­ tified. The battle was joined. Based on its conclusions, the panel made four recommen­ dations. The first concerned Blue Book's diffra c ti on camera, radarscope, and skywatch plans. It suggested using the dif­ fraction cameras not to collect UFO data b ut to allay public anxiety, especially because the plan was the result of pub l ic pressure . Sim ila rly, it recommended implementation of the radarscope plan because it could help explain natural inter­ ference in the radar screens . But it rejected Dr. Hynek's ex­ panded skywatch plan. "A program of this type," th e panel argued, "might have the adverse e ffe ct of overemphasizing 'flying saucer' stories in the public mind . " In a second pro­ posal, the p anel suggested th at the two major private UFO re s ea rch organizations, the Aerial Phenomena Research Or­ ganiz ation and the Civilian Saucer Intelligence, "be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. Th e app a re nt i rre sp o ns i­ bility and the possible use of such groups for subversive pur­ poses should be kept in mind." Third, the members recom­ mended that national security agencies take steps im m ed iatel y to strip the UFO phe nome n o n of its special status and elimi­ nate the aura of mystery it had acquired. This could be done b y initiating a public education campaign so th at people could recognize and re ac t promptly to true indications of hos­ tile intent.12 Finally, in its fourth proposal, the Robertson p an el out­ lined a detailed program of public education with two pur­ poses : "training and 'debunking.' " Training would help ' people id e nt ify known ob j e cts so that there would be "a 1 marked reduction in reports caused by misidentification and resultant confusion." Debunking would reduce public interest in UFOs and there fo re decrease or eliminate UFO reports. The e duc ation p rogram, by using the mass media, would concentrate on "actual case histories which had been puzzling


84

The UFO Controversy in A merica

at first but later explained. As with conjuring tricks, there is much less stimulation if the 'secret' is known." Such a pro­ gram would reduce "the current gullibility of the public and consequently their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda." The panel suggested that the government hire psychologists familiar with mass psychology as consultants; it named a few, including Hadley Cantril who had written a book on the 1 9 3 8 War of the Worlds broadcast. The panel also recommended that the Air Force use any army training firm company, Walt Disney Productions, and personalities such as Arthur Godfrey in this massive educational drive. In a key discussion before making recommendations, the panel members decided that a limited expansion of Blue Book's in· vestigatory capacity was needed to increase the percentage of explained reports; -this also was necessary to reinforce the proposed educational program. ts A few panel members may have prejudged the UFO issue. At the meetings, Page refused to take the subject seriously and Robertson had to chastize him for joking about the UFO r�· ports. Writing in 1 965 to a person interested in UFOs, S. A. Goudsmit said he had not changed his mind about the UFO phenomenon since the meetings; he still believed the subj ect : was "a complete waste of time and should be investigated by psychiatrists rather than physicists." Furthermore, the extra­ terrestrial theory was "almost as dangerous to the general wel­ fare of our unstable society as drug addiction and some other mental disorders." Hynek was aware of these attitudes, and although the panel members did not ask him to sign the final report, he later stated he would not have signed it even if they ' had asked. He argued that the panel made a judgment about UFOs in less than four days whereas he had spent more than, four years studying the problem and was unable to arrive at · any conclusions.14 When asked why he did not speak out against the panel, Hynek replied that he was only "small po- 1 tatoes" then ; not only would the Air Force have ignored him, but he would have jeopardized his standings with the Air· Force and with the astronomical community.tll The Robertson panel conclusions were roughly similar to I those of the 1 949 Projects Sign and Grudge reports. Sign also wanted the Air Force to "eliminate or greatly reduce the mystery'' associated with UFOs. Grudge found that enemies could use UFOs to create a "mild form of hysteria" in the public and recom mended publicity to dispel "public appre­ hension."16 Both Sign and Grudge found that UFOs


The Robertson Panel and its Effects

85

represented no direct threat to national security. Also, the Robertson report, like the Sign and Grudge reports, set the tone of future Air Force UFO policy. The panel did not recommend declassification of the sighting reports and did not exercise its apparent opportunity to move the study from the military to the academic community. Rather, because of the UFO reports' threat, the panel implied that the Air Force should tighten security , continuing the situation whereby non­ military personnel could not obtain the technical and anec­ dotal information the Air Force had amassed over the last four years, and also increasing public suspicions derived from secrecy. The panel believed the dissemination of information would lead to increased public awareness of UFOs and this would eventually mean an increase in reports. It assumed that keeping quiet would make UFOs disappear. The Robertson report also had critically _important public relations ramifications. It enabled the Air Force to state for the next fifteen years that an impartial scientific body had ex­ amined the data thoroughly and found no evidence of any­ thing unusual in the atmosphere. More importantly, the panel gave the Air Force's UFO program the necessary military raison d'etre it needed to continue : it had to mount a ma­ jor effort against UFO reports because they were a threat to the national security. The Air Force could now sidestep the substantive issues of the nature and origin of the objects and concentrate on the public relations problems involved in elim­ inating UFO reports. Blue Book was therefore relieved of its main investigating burden. Yet since the Air Force's overall mission was to monitor everything in the skies, Blue Book would still investigate and analyze UFO reports, but on a greatly reduced scale. The panel submitted its formal conclusions and recommen­ dations to the CIA and, as far as can be ascertained, to the Pentagon and higher echelons of the Air Force. Robertson showed the final report to General Cabell ( former director of intelligence ) , who expressed satisfaction with it. The CIA did not give a copy of the report to Ruppelt or his staff in 1953, although i t did release a summary t o Blue Book a few years ; later. But shortly after the panel adjourned, the CIA sum1 moned Ruppelt and Garland to its headquarters to tell them about the recommendations. As Ruppelt reported it, the offi­ cials explained that the Robertson panel had recommended expanding Blue Book's staff, using instruments for more accu­ rate measurements, and terminating all secrecy in the project


86

The UFO Controversy in A merica

by reclassifying sighting reports,17 If Ruppelt understood and

reported correctly, it remains a mystery why the CIA gave out this false inform ation. The panel memb ers had recom­ mended continued use of some plans in their discussions but h ad not made this the focus of their formal recommendations. . Armed with these CIA "recommendations" an d orders from his superiors to follow them, Ruppelt began implemen­ tation. He tried to have the N ewhouse film declassified and shown to a press conference. This was to be a m ajor event because in 1 952 the press had heard rumors of the film and Fournet had fought h ard with the Air Force Office of In­ formation to release it. But just before the showing was to take place, Air Force officials stopped it and the press confer­ ence. According to Ruppelt, the mil itary believed the sea gull theory was weak. Moreover, the new publicity policy was to keep silent.18 Other events happened at Project Blue Book that Ruppelt could not account for. Toward the end of 1 952 the Air Force began to work out a nationwide plan to set up cameras in connection with rad ar units (this plan was different from the plan to take ph otographs of radarscopes ) . The cameras

would photograph any UFO that radar picked up and would provide accurate measurements of the objects. The Air Force hoped this plan would either take the place of the diffraction grid camera plan or supplement it. Suddenly, and seemingly , without reason, the Air Force abandoned it, saying the dif­ fraction cameras would suffice. Even the radarscope plan, which the panel had suggested, was not producing valuable information. Thus, the diffraction camera scheme , which was ready for implementation, assumed even more importance. The Air Force placed about a hundred Videon cameras equipped with diffraction grids in air bases around the country and tested them. After a few weeks o f testing, however, it found that because of chem ical decomposition the grids were slowly disintegrating and losing their light-separating ability. It decided to tr.y to rep air or substitute the grids but never did, finally abandoning the entire idea. After one full year of work, the Air Force allowed the d iffraction camera plan to die, although the Videon cameras without grids remained in operation at the bases.t9 In the face of growing Pentagon opposition to mounting a full-scale UFO invest igation, Ruppelt conceived an idea to supplement his diminishing Blue Book staff. During wartime

I,


The Robertson Panel and its Effects

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the 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron, a unit within the Air Defense Command, gathered intelligence from cap­ , tured enemy pilots. But during peacetime the unit only simu­ lated this activity and bad no other duties. In a February 1 953 briefing to high-ranking ADC officers, Ruppelt suggested that the 4602d take over Project Blue Book's field investi­ gation. The men of the 4602d would get on-the-spot investi­ gation experience and also expand Blue B ook's field work. General Garland liked the idea and, with General Burgess, worked out the transfer plan, which became operative in De­ cember 1 95 3 . It was the last major expansion of Blue Book's activities. 2 0 Ruppelt temporarily left Blue Book in February 1 953 for a several-month assignment in Denver. Since his replacement never came, this left a staff lieutenant in charge. When Rup­ pelt returned he found that the Air Force h ad reassigned several members of his staff and had sent no replacements. Eventually the Blue Book staff dwindled to Ruppelt and two assistants. This was not in keeping with the panel's recom­ mendation, as Ruppelt understood it, to expand Blue Book. According to Ruppelt, his superior officers gave him orders to build up Blue Book; yet every time he tried to add personnel or expa'nd in any way, the Air Force refused to concur. Rup­ pelt left Blue Book permanently in August 1 953. As a reserve he had been reactivated for the Korean War; now that it had ended he accepted a position in private industry. No replace­ ment came for him and he turned over his command to Air' man First Class Max Futch. 21 The fact that an airman com­ manded the project demonstrates the priority the Air Force , placed on it. Dewey Fournet left the Pentagon in the same year. These i two departures meant that the last effective military support for the continued study of UFOs based on the premise that they could be extraterrestrial vehicles had vanished. Hynek still supported such study, but he was a civilian and could only submit suggestions. Moreover, although he believed the Air Force should study the subject systematically, he feared "dicul e from the academic community if he came out strongly 1 for a continued systematic investigation. Hynek simply kept quiet and continued in his role as consultant.2 2 During the first half of 1 95 3 , even as the Air Force de­ l ided to downplay publicity about UFOs, popular UFO ' peculation boomed. Donald Keyhoe headed the field when excerpt of his book Flying Saucers From Outer Space ap-


88

The UFO Controversy in A merica

peared in an October issue of Look magazine. Keyhoe began the book in the summer of 1 9 52, acting on Blue Book's new liberal attitude toward the press. Having heard Samford say at the July 1 95 2 press conference that Force had no reason to classify sighting reports, asked AI Chop, Pentagon UFO information officer,

General the Air Keyhoe for nu­

merous classified reports. The Office of Information routinely denied Keyhoe's request. But Chop, who was leaning toward

the extraterrestrial hypothesis, asked Dewey Fournet to help. Fournet, who also tended toward the extraterrestrial theory, went to Ruppert and had all the sightings that Keyhoe re­ quested declassified and turned over to him. With these sight­ ings, Keyhoe had enough information for his new book. 2 3 The Air Force feared that the excerpt of Keyhoe's book in

Look would result in another rash of sighting reports. To combat this it pressured Look into including an Air Force

disclaimer in the article. The disclaimer stated that the in­ formation contained in the article was unofficial and that the Air Force had found nothing unusual about the objects. In addition, Look allowed the Air Force to insert parenthetical remarks disputing certain points throughout the article. 24 As well as trying to neutralize the expected impact of the

Look article, Air Force officials charged that Keyhoe had ob­ tained his sighting reports fraudulently and that the Air Force had no record of releasing them. Keyhoe went directly to AI Chop to counter this claim. ( Chop had resigned his press in­ formation post in March 1 9 5 3 . ) He w illingly signed an affi­ davit stating that he had released the sighting reports, which were from official Air Force files, to Keyhoe. Eventually the Air Force admitted this was the case. The entire affair deepened Keyhoe's conviction that a massive cover-up was taking place within the Air Force to keep vital information from the public. He believed high-ranking Air Force officials knew UFOs represented extraterrestrial intelligence, and be­ cause they had not informed the public of this, Keyhoe felt certain it meant only one thing : a conspiracy of- silence. Key­ hoe's book, Flying Saucers From Outer Space, came out in October 1 9 5 3 and was one of the most widely read books of the decade, selling over half a million copies. 2 5 Through its sales, Keyhoe kept his position in the forefront of private UFO investigators. Although Keyhoe believed more than ever in an Air Force cover-up, he admitted in his book that he might have been wrong about the Air Force trying to cover up information in

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The Robertson Panel and its Effects

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the early days of t h e controversy. But, he said, "they knew a lot more than they were telling now." He contended that the Air Force kept facts from the American public to prevent possible panic and hysteria. Keyhoe had heard the argument that an enemy possibly could use the flying saucer scare to its advantage. But he turned the argument on its head. By 1 9 54, Keyhoe wrote, the Russians would h ave, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the ability to stage a m assive atomic at­ tack. Keyhoe reasoned that the Russians, just before the at­ tack, could claim the saucers were actually secret weapons. "By starting false rumors of Russian saucer attacks, they might cause stampedes from cities, block defense highways, and paralyze cpmmunications just before an A-bomb raid." Therefore, a "grave danger" existed if the Air Force refused to correctly identify· the saucers as extraterrestrial vehicles.26 Keyhoe had learned many of the basic facts. He h ad ob­ tained the sighting reports from Blue Book files; he had heard rumors of the Robertson p anel meetings and recommenda­ tions, although he could not verify them; he accurately iden­ tified the people within the Air Force sympathetic to his rea­ soning by establishing a direct line to the Air Force through Fournet and Chop. The problem was his interpretation of these facts. He had no way of knowing all the Air Force and CIA reasons for their actions. But because he lacked access to all the information, his interpretation-that the Air Force blocked full release of information about UFOs to avoid pub­ lic panic and hysteria-seemed to be the only answer to the Air Force's puzzling behavior. For Keyhoe all outward indi­ cations of the Air Force's actions led to the conspiracy thesis. Because Keyhoe's facts were basically correct, the Air Force could not invalidate or refute his interpretation unless it dis­ closed fully the rationale for its activities. Therefore, the Air Force's main counterattack in 1 95 3 was to issue press re­ leases denying Keyhoe's claims and to ward off additional publicity. This only reinforced Keyhoe's contentions and the effect was circular : the more the Air Force denied Keyhoe's conspiracy charge, the more it seemed to be covering up. At about the same time that Keyhoe released his book, Don­ ald Menzel published his long-awaited book on the subject as well. Menzel was the first American scientist to write a book on UFOs, and Harvard University Press published it. He had not changed his m ind about the phenomenon. As in previous articles, he explained again in Flying Sauce rs that the objects were mainly uncommon atmospheric occurrences:

/


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

temperature inversions, reflections, lenticular clouds, sun dogs, mock suns, ice crystals floating in the clouds, optical il­ lusions, and, especially, m irages. The very idea that UFOs represented extraterrestrial intelligence was ludicrous. People who accepted this idea were lunatics, cultists, religious fan­ atics, or at best frightened and confused.27 Menzel, thinking that a direct attack on specific sighting reports was the best way to explode the "saucer myth," at­ tempted to solve each m ajor sighting that had achieved noto­ riety. The faa-fighters of World War II were the sun's reflec­ tions shining off imperfections of a bomber wing tip ; Captain Mantell h ad chased a mock sun; the "windows" and struc­ tures that Chiles and Wh itted had described were products of overexicted imaginations, although Menzel could not explain what it was they saw. To show how self-seekers had taken ad­ vantage of the gullible public, Menzel dwelled on the famous hoaxes of a few years before. He erroneously claimed there were m ore hoaxes than legitimate reports in the beginnin g of the phenom,enon, and he spent an entire chapter describing Frank Scully's 1 950 semihoax, Behind the Flying Saucers, and the events surrounding it.2S Menzel also dealt with the 1 896-97 airships and thereby moved these sightings into the UFO debate. Menzel believed the airships were either twinkling stars that appeared to move because of atmospheric refraction, cigar-shaped lenticular clouds, or mirages. The entire airship affair was a product of mass illusion; people wanted to see an airship and therefore did. To b ack up his argument, Menzel quoted Edison's state­ ment that airship sightings were ridiculous. This, Menzel said, effectively burst the airship bubble and the sightings stopped after newspapers around the country published Edison's state­ ment If a person sighted an airship after the publication of Edison's remarks, Menzel reasoned the s ighter obviously h ad not read the article.29 To reinforce his arguments Menzel once again stressed the potential dangers of UFOs in psychological warfare. Ameri­ cans were suffering from a case of " international j itters," Menzel said, and had been conditioned to report anything un­ usual because they were anxious about an atomic war. Also, science fiction writers had conditioned the American public to believe in other intelligent life in the universe; therefore, the public interpreted anything unusual in the sky as being evidence for this. Menzel saw no difference between the 1952-53 flying s aucer scare and the hysterical reaction to


The Robertson Panel and its Effects

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the Orson Welles 1 9 3 8 invasion from Mars broadcast. Men­ zel, as did the Robertson panel, believed the sightings represented a possible danger to the national security. "The public is afraid of saucers-and we need only a match to set off a nation-wide panic that could far exceed that of the InvaI 11 sion from Mars. In fact, if a foreign power were to pull off a surprise attack on the United States, millions of Americans would conclude that the flying saucers from Mars or Venus were finally landing ! "Bo Menzel's book was successful. Published at the same time as the Keyhoe book, many libraries had to decide which book to purchase. They more often bought Menzel's book because ' he was an established scientist. Sometimes libraries bought both and put the Menzel book in the science section and the Keyhoe book in the ·science fiction section. One librarian was so hostile to Keyhoe's book that he decided "no amount of rationalizing about 'future historical importance,' 'balanced collections,' and 'public demand,' can justify their expenditure of tax dollars for books such as Keyhoe's-books whose pur­ pose seems to us to satisfy a jaded taste for the bizarre and the sensational."31 In addition, Keyhoe's popularity and looseness in thinking helped legitimize Menzel's views. Men­ zel wrote his book in an acceptable scientific manner. This, coupled with the subject's inherent illegitimacy, enabled Men­ zel's views to achieve substantial influence in the scientific community. While the Keyhoe-Menzel debate raged, the Air Force, mindful of the previous year's hectic summer, moved to regu­ larize and simplify its UFO investigating and reporting methods. First it issued Air Force Regulation 200-2 in Au­ gust 1953, which superseded Air Force Letter 200-5. The regulation required an air base UFO officer to make a prelimi­ nary report of a sighting, and it spelled out exactly all the questions he was to ask of the UFO witnesses. The air base officer decided what priority to assign a report according to his determination of the report's intelligence value. The fol­ lowing year the Air Force amended APR 200-2, stipulating that only the 4602d would make investigations. If a unit was not in the vicinity of a sighting, an air base officer was re­ quired to make a preliminary report and send it to the 4 602d unit nearest him, which would determine if a field investiga­ tion was warranted. APR 200-2 also took a firm public rela­ tions stance : it prohibited the release of any information about a sighting to the public except when the sighting was

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

p ositively identified. In addition, while Air Force Letter 200-5 had stated that sightings should not be classified higher than restricted, the new regulation ( 200-2 ) said all sightings should be classified restricted at the very least. Finally, the regulation directed ATIC to continue analyzing UFO data as they came in from the 4602d units.a2 The new regulation gave the Air Force strong control over the sighting reports it received, and it hoped this control would mean increased identification of the objects. The prohi­ bition against riving out sighting information reflected the Air Force's attempts to institute the Robertson panel's desire to end public speculation about UFOs with the concomitant threat of increased reports. For the first time the Air Force had institutionalized secrecy at the air base level. To fur­ ther ward off publicity leaks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff fol­ lowed up 200-2 with Joint-Army-Navy-Air Force-Publication (JANAP) 1 4 6 in December 1 9 5 3 . Under the subheading of "Canadian-United States Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings," the Joint Chiefs of Staff made releasing any information to the public about a UFO report a crime under the Espionage Act, punishable by a one-to-ten-year prison term or a $ 1 0,000 fine . JANAP 146 applied to anyone who knew it existed, including commercial airline pilots.as This action effectively stopped the flow of in­ formation to the public. Only if Blue Book could positively identify a sighting as a hoax or misidentification would the Air Force release information to the public. The policy was in effect until December 1 969, when the Air Force termi­ nated its involvement with UFOs. The Blue Book status reports subtly reflected the Air Force's new attitude toward sightings. Instead of issuing monthly reports as before, Blue Book issued only four more status reports, all during 1 953 and the first two in January and February. The reports displayed a certain defensiveness and concern for public relations. For instance, Blue Book mentioned in all four reports that the decline in sighting re­ ports was due to a decline in newspaper publicity. There was a "direct relation" between newspaper publicity and UFO re­ ports : one "highly publ icized sighting would again trigger off another 'saucer' scare with resulting pressure on the Air Force and ATIC." Because of possible public hysteria, Proj­ ect Blue Book was preparing a fact sheet for the public in­ formation officer in Washington to release. "Thus the Air Force cannot be accused of withholding information."


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J ATIC's concern with publ ic relations was further demon-

trated in its new p olicy of channeling all its releases and in­ . formation through the Secretary of the Air Force's Office of 1 Public Information.34 Blue Book's last major ongoing proj ect in 1 953 was the ' Battelle Memorial Institute's statistical study of UFO charac­ teristics. The institute had finally completed the study. It coneluded that the objects did not appear to represent anything unknown or outside the capabilities of human technology, even though earlier in the year the institute acknowledged that the data were highly unreliable. Instead of immediately issui ing the report to the press, evidence suggests that the Air Force decided to delay the study's release until the most op­ portune time.s5 , Thus the Air Force's involvement with the UFO con­ troversy changed character rather completely during 1 953. A •

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year earlier, Blue Book, under Captain Ruppelt, had tried to . set up procedures whereby it could systematically study the i UFO phenomenon, at least within the bounds set by its lim­ :} ited funds and resources. But by the end of 1 953 the oppor1 tunity for such an investigation was gone. Project Blue Book had only three staff members, its investigating capabilities had j gone to another command , and most of its projects had died for lack of funds. Ruppelt, Fournet, and Chop were no longer involved and General Garland never again raised his voice in defense of a UFO investigation. The CIA-sponsored Robertson panel changed Blue Book's role from seeking the causes of sightings to keeping the sighting reports at a mini­ mum or, preferably, stopping them completely. Although Project Blue Book continued its work, it would never again be able to conduct a program of thorough investigations. From 1 953 to 1 9 69 Project Blue Book's main thrust was pub­ lic relations. In the private sector, Ohio Northern University's study of UFOs also ended fruitlessly in 1 95 3 . Although the research­ ers had found that about 20 percent of the reports seemed to be of genuinely unusu al phenomena, they could not make an adequate scientific study because they had received only 54 reports from the public out of the 200 they estim ated they needed for scientific analysis. sa The CIA recommendations became critical for future Air Force action. It would claim for years afterward that it had conducted an adequate scientific investigation, complete with instruments ( radarscope camera and Videon diffraction grid)

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

to measure UFO characteristics. Moreover, the Air Force would use the Robertson panel as proof that it had sought the most able scientific evaluation. Meanwhile, the Air Force had unexpected help in its public relations efforts. A growing number of flying saucer "believers," who subscribed to the views of a new group of people called contactees, emerged in 1 9 5 3 to confuse the controversy even more. But that is an足 other story.


CONTACTEES, CLUBS, A ND CONFUSION

As public interest in unidentified flying objects grew, the UFO phenomenon entered popular culture. Because of its nature, the phenomenon easily lent itself to science fiction, fantasy, sensationalism, and hoax. In the early and middle 1 950s two groups in American society exploited the sensa足 tional aspects of the phenomenon. As would be expected, the Hollywood movie industry e ntered the scene early, capitaliz足 ing on the growing audience for stories associated with UFOs. But the group that captured public attention most was the contactees-people who claimed personal contact, communication, and interaction with beings from another planet. Rising to popularity at the same time as the Air Force was ' trying to reduce the number of UFO reports, the contactees 1 in creased publicity on the subject and counteracted many of these Air Force efforts. Similarly, the contactees h indered the attempts of people concerned about the UFO phenomenon to convince the public and the Air Force to treat the phenome足 non seriously. Ironically, the contactees also aided the Air Force by making seemingly ridiculous claims and inviting widespread ridicule of all UFO witnesses. The contactees d id not participate directly in the debate over the origin of UFOs, but they embodied many of its elements and became, above all, a divisive force in the controversy. S ince the 1 95 0s there have been many instances when rep, utable i nd ividuals claimed to h ave close encounters with UFOs. Occasionally, people with no discernible reason to lie, who were respected members of a community-teachers, ministers, policemen-claimed to h ave seen occupants or beings in or near a UFO. Puzzled and frightened, these witnesses usually reported their experiences to the police or Air Force because they wanted a reasonable explanation for such a fantastic experience. They often asked for anonymity

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

and were not interested in gaining publicity or money. Their UFO experience seemed to be an aberration from the normal flow of their daily l ives. Nothing in their backgrounds sug­ gested that they hallucinated or perpetrated a hoax ( although a serious investigator could not ignore these possibilities) . Sometimes these witnesses presented evidence of their experi­ e nce in the form of corroborating witnesses, flattened and scorched grass, broken tree limbs, and deep depressions in the ground. Often they claimed that these encounters produced strange side effects, such as electrical failures, automobile en- . gine failure, and radio interference.l This group was completely different from the psychologi­ cally aberrant individuals who, apparently because of mental problems, had delusions of communicating with extraterres­ trial beings. These peple often claimed to receive signals from outer space or to have mystical encounters with spacemen. Their experiences did not constitute deviations from their daily lives, and their stories usually were incoherent, inconsist­ ent, or part of a pattern of psychical or occult experiences. Like the first group, these people generally did not seek pub­ licity or fabricate hoaxes intentionally.2 The contactees represented an entirely different type of UFO witness. They exhibited behavior consistent with the assertion that they fabricated hoaxes. They did not report their "expe­ riences" to a reputable investigatory agency. Instead, they publicized them by writing books and articles, presenting lec­ tures, and appearing on radio and television shows. Indeed, the contactees had no fear of ridicule and eagerly sought publicity. They often organized special flying saucer clubs based on their experiences and used the clubs to help publicize their stories. Also, their "experiences" often differed markedly from all other UFO observers, in that some contactees claimed to have taken a ride in a �ying saucer and described the ride and the planets they visited in great detail. Moreover, most contactees reported that space people had charged them with a m ission, which, they said, was why they had to seek publicity. The five major contactees who rose to national stardom in the 1 9 50s were George Adamski, Truman Bethurum, Daniel Fry, Orfeo Angelucci, and Howard Menger. Each attracted a large following. The five men also knew each other and rein­ forced each other's claims. George Adamski was the most famous contactee of the 1 950s. He worked as a handyman in a four-stool cafe near Mount Palomar, California. Previous to his encounters with

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the spacemen, he had billed himself as "professor" and had written a tract about a body of thought he devised and called the "Royal Order of Tibet."8 Failing to gain recognition as a mystic, he turned to science fiction to capitalize on his interest in astronomy and photography. His main endeavor in this genre was a novel he wrote in 1 946 about an imaginary trip to the stars.� When UFO sightings began, Adamski conceived of a way to take advantage of the current interest. The product of th i s idea was Flying Saucers Have Landed, which h e coauthored with British writer Desmond Leslie in 1 953. In the book Adamski related his contactee experiences. They began in 1 946 when he "actually saw with [his] own naked eyes a gigantic space craft." The next year Adamski saw 1 84 sau­ cers one night passing over him one after the other " as if in review." Unfortunately he took no pictures of this extraordi­ nary procession. From then on, he said, he observed the saucers regularly. G Adamski's first "contact" came on November 20, 1952, when he and six friends saw a spaceship land about one mile off the road in Desert Center, California. He told his friends to wait at the car and rushed to the landing spot. taking pic­ tures all the way ( he had two cameras with him) . When he neared the craft, a man with long blond hair confronted him. The man was from Venus. Adamski and the Venusian con­ versed telepathically and by sign language; the Venusian told Adamski that he had come to Earth to stop atomic testing because the radiation from fallout was damaging the other planets in the solar system. The Venusian did not want his picture taken because then he would no longer be able to roam incognito among the earthlings. The Venusian expressed an interest in a roll of Adamski's film and asked to borrow it, promising to return it soon. Adamski consented and the Venusian then allowed him to look inside the space craft before it took off and left the area. Adamski was able to take the pictures that day; but, as luck would have it, one camera was out of focus and the other was not working properly. The result was one blurry photograph. Mter the Venusian took off in his spacecraft. Adamski looked in the desert sand and discovered the Venusian's footprints, which had strange hieroglyphics in the middle of the soles. Adamski just happened to have some plaster of paris with him and made casts of the footprints. He and several friends attempted in vain to decipher hieroglyphics.o


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

Adamski's m ajor work, Inside the Space Ships, appeared in 1 955. He told bow he met incognito space people in Los An­

geles bars and cafes. At various tim es they invited him aboard Martian, Venusian, Satumian, and Jupiterian spaceships. On board these ships Adamski met beautiful Mar­ tian and Venusian spacewomen and the elder philosopher of the space people--the Master. While the women served re­ freshments, Adamski and the Master engaged in long and deep conversations about the state of the universe and Earth's posi­ tion in it. The Master described other planets' social and po­ litical systems and made it clear that Earth was primitive. The space people were benevolent beings who had come to save mankind from eventual atomic destruction and, as the Master explained, to stop the Earth's atomic radiation from harming the other planets. The space people h ad a dual mis­ sion : to save the earthlings from themselves and to save the universe from the earthlings. They told Adaniski that they had selected individuals to carry their message to the people. Jesus had been one of these messengers ; Adamski was an­ other. He had to carry their message to the Earth people and bear the ridicule of those who would not believe him. 7 Truman Bethurum followed Adamski's lead in 1 954 with A board a Flying Saucer. Bethurum was then a mechanic lay­ ing asphalt in the California desert. One night eight to ten little men awakened him as he slept near his rig, and he no­ ticed a flying saucer near them on the ground. The little men took the curious Bethurum aboard the scow, as they called it, and introduced him to the captain, a gorgeous woman named Aura Rhanes. She was similar to Earth women except for her extraordinary beauty. Aura explained that she and her crew came from a planet called Clarion, which was in the same so­ lar system as Earth. Astronomers could not see Clarion be­ cause its orbit always placed it directly behind the sun. The Clarionites had been coming to Earth for many years and were able to walk around unnoticed. They were "very reli­ gious, understanding, kind, friendly and . . . trusting." They had come to Earth, Aura explained, to reaffirm the values of marriage, family, and fidelity, because a "dreadful Paganism" was at work and the Clarionites did not want to see Earth people destroy themselves. Aura feared atomic war and wanted to prevent Earth from blowing itself up, an event that would cause "considerable confusion" in space. In the course of their lengthy discussions, Aura explained to Bethurum in detail the idyllic quality of life on Clarion, a life that Earth

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Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

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people could enjoy if they thought and behaved correctly.s Before the Clarionites departed for home, Betburum met 1 with them eleven times. Sometimes be saw them in cafes, but there they ignored him because they did not want to reveal , � their identities. When they finally left and Betburum told his story, no one believed him except George Adamski, who en· 1 . couraged him to publicize his experiences. Betburum thought r Adamski was a great man and an authority on space travel.9 In the same year ( 1 9 54) "Dr." Daniel Fry's White Sands l Incident came out. One night, when Fry was working in an unspecified capacity at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, be saw a flying saucer land near him. He ' · walked up to it and beard a voice say : "Better not touch the

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bull, pal, it's still bot !" This frightened him but the voice was reassuring : "Take it easy, p al, you're among friends."10 The

voice, which later identified itself as "A-lan," invited Fly into the saucer and explained the details of the saucer's power. Fly remembered the conversation and carefully recorded the technical data: When certain elements such as platinum are properly prepared and treated with a saturation exposure to a beam of very high energy photons, the binding energy particle will be generated outside the nucleus. Since these p articles tend to repel each other as well as all matter they, like the electron, tend to migrate to the sur­ face of the metal where they manifest as a repellent force.n Alan, as Fry called the voice, whisked

him

to New York City

and back in about thirty minutes. During the flight Alan told Fry to write a book about this experience to prevent the world from falling into the "terrible abyss" that nuclear weapons brought about. The spacemen, Alan explained, were forced to contact Fry because they would upset the "ego balance" of the Earth's civilization

if

they showed themselves. Alan said

the key to peace and happiness for Earth was

"understand­ ing'': if all the nations on Earth would just understand each other, then there would be no more war. t2

Orfeo Angelucci, a mechanic at an aircraft corporation, continued the contactee tradition in 1 9 55 with his mystically oriented

Secret of the Saucers. Angelucci's experiences began a Los Angeles field ; he

when be saw a flying s aucer land in


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

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inspected the craft and heard a voice, which identified itself as a "space brother," explain that he was visiting Earth to , record the "spiritual evolution of man." He was concerned 1 that Earth's "material advancement" was endangering life's evolution. A few weeks later Angelucci saw another flying saucer in the same location and entered it on impulse. Inside a voice revealed the secrets of the saucer's power. He took a ride in the saucer and was so impressed that, during the flight, he underwent a mystical-religious experience that demonstrated his kinship with the space people. After the flight he met a spaceman named Neptune who instructed him about the universe and life in space. 1 s

Angelucci then began to meet the spacemen in mundane places. For instance, one contact took place in a Greyhound bus terminal. Unable to keep these experiences a secret, he gave weekly talks, published a newspaper and attended flying saucer conventions, where he met Adamski, Bethurum, and other contactees whom he admired greatly. One day he real­ ized he had had amnesia for a week and eventually discov­ ered th at he h ad been spiritually transported to another planet. There he met the beautiful Lyra and her friend Orion, who explanied that Angelucci had been a spacemen also named Neptune in another life. They exposed Angelucci to all the wonders of their beautiful planet and told him that Earth had better change its course-by mankind working to­ gether benevolently--or a calamity would ensue in 1 986. An- , gelucci returned to Earth knowing that in his first life he was a spaceman with his spiritual heritage in the heavens. In a later contact, Angelucci met Jesus, who told him the space people were on Earth to help mankind and were traveling in­ cognito everywhere. ''This is the beginning of the New Age," Jesus said. At his last meeting with Lyra, Angelucci drank from the crystal goblet and finally understood that, even though he must return to the mundane world, he, Lyra, . Orion, and the other Neptune were joined together forever in love. 14 Howard Menger, a self-employed sign p ainter, was the fifth of the major contactees. He told about his experiences in From Outer Space to You ( 1 959 ) . Menger had his first con­ tact as a child. He was playing in the woods when he chanced upon a beautiful woman who told him that the space people were watching over him. He did not have another contact until he was an adult but sensed during all those years that th � space people were helpin� him. He felt they


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

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helped save his life in World War I I when he �as in When the space 1 people finally contacted Menger again, they revealed that they came from Mars and Venus. They took him to the moon and gave him a guided tour of the wonderful buildings and sights there. Menger explained that the moon's atmo­ sphere was similar to the Earth's and that he could breathe the air easily. Eventually Menger learned that he was a re- � incarnated Jupiterian put o n Earth to perform good deeds for ! the benefit of mankind. At one of his lectures about his ex­ r periences, he met a beautiful woman, Marla, whom he imme­ i diately recognized as being a spacewoman, even though she 1� did not know this herself. Menger divorced his wife and mar­ ried Marla; they made a "natural couple," destined for each ! other because of their common heritage. During this lecture 1 tour, Menger met contactee George Van Tassel, who accompanied him on the tour. Later Menger met George Adamski and said he was a "great soul."15 " The Adamski, Bethurum, Fry, Angelucci, and Menger stories all contained similar concepts. They defined the contactee literature genre and illustrated the contactees' anthropomorph­ ic style of thinking. These concepts possibly reflected the 1 contactees' anxieties about post-World War II American society and, more specifically, the prospect of atomic war, the role of religion in a technological society, the yearning for • peace and harmony in the cold-war political climate, and the • possibility of extraterrestrial visitation. An analysis of these i themes is at least essential for understanding why the contac­ � tees became so popular. \ According to the contactees, space people came from uto­ ! pian planets free from war, poverty, unhappiness, or want. i Everyone on Clarion was employed and poverty was un1 known. No Earth-like problems existed, although some ex1 traterrestrials did mention enemies . Moreover, the space I people, if not immortal, lived thousands of years and usually I could be reincarnated in another life. The planet Angelucci i visited had "eternal youth, eternal spring and eternal day." The contactees portrayed the space people as rational, tech­ nologically advanced, perfected "humans" who understood the disastrous implications of Earth's technology. Angelucci's space people told him that "man's material knowledge has far outstripped the growth of brotherly love and spiritual under­ standing in his heart. "t 6

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The UFO Controversy in America

bility of atomic war-the contactees invested the space people with missions that promised society a release from cold-war tensions. The space people came to help Earth people avoid war, stop atomic testing, and help mankind work together for a benevolent society. But they were not completely altruistic and were working for their own interests as well as those of Earth. They wanted to stop atomic testing

because the leaking radiation affected their planets; they wanted to stop an atomic war because it would upset the so­ lar system's delicate balance. The contactees avoided poten­ tially troublesome political issues in the 1 950s by having the nonideological space people expound these beliefs and by tak­ ing an anticommunist stance in their literature. In keeping with the aliens' humanity and benevolence, they came from planets where civilization was based on a god-fig­ ure, such as the "Infinite Father" or "Infinite Creator." The space people lived within a religious ethos that supported their moral reasons for coming to Earth. They placed Jesus in I a secondary position and did not worship him because he died on Earth for Earth people. The contactees said that ei­ ther the space people or God had sent Jesus to Earth to fulfill a mission. Jesus, the Master told Adamski, "was sent to be re­ incarnated on your world to help your people, as had others before him." His death taught the space people to carry on their mission "in a way less perilous to those concerned than actual birth on your planet." For Angelucci's aliens, Jesus was an "infinite entity of the sun" and "not of earth's evolu­ tion."11 In this sense, the contactees transformed Jesus into a spaceman and allied God, Jesus, and the space people into a unified system. Moreover, because both Jesus and the con­ tactees were space messengers, the contactees compared them­ selves to Jesus and thereby strengthened the impact of the re­ ligious implications of their experiences. Although the con­ tactees never claimed to be on a religious par with Jesus, the parallel was still clear. Apart from religious and ideological implications, the con­ tactees dealt with a host of more mundane problems. In ex­ plaining why aliens did not land publicly, they juxtaposed the space people's benevolence with the Earth people's hostility and psychological frailty. It was these Earth qualities that prevented the aliens from landing publicly. As Adamski said : humans would have a "tremendous amount of fear" of the space people and prob ably would "tear [them] to pieces." Daniel Fry's Alan explained that m ost Earth people would


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! consider the sp ace people "potential tyrants" and would try I to destroy them. Menger's space friends feared that a landing

would result in hysteria and panic and, Menger reasoned, "there would be endless investigations and controversy, and the work and message the space people have come to deliver uld be snowed under by red tape." But contacting selected 1wo , ;Earth people was not a problem for the space people. Regardless of where the aliens were from, be it Mars, Venus, !Jupiter, or Clarion, they looked like human beings, except that the women were fantastically beautiful. Thus, the space Jpeople were able to mingle incognito with humans.ts If the space people looked just like Earth people, why did . 1 •they not carry out their own mission instead of having a hu1 man do it? The contactees d id not answer this question. They 1 sidestepped it with self-conscious explanations of why the ' space people chose them in particular. They chose Adamski because, in photographing saucers for many years, his thoughts "inevitably" reached them and demonstrated his "sincerity." They chose Bethurum simply because he "hap­ pened to be close" when the s cow landed. They selected Fry because he had one of those rare brains that could receive as ell as send telepathic signals. And, the "buffetings of fate" ' gave Fry an "unusual depth and breadth of perception and understanding" which made him an ideal contact. The aliens ontacted Angelucci because he was simple, humble, publicly nknown, and possessed a "higher vibrational pattern" than ther men. Aliens singled out Menger because h e was one of 1 them, a "rebirth" from another planet. Presumably these haracteristics made it easier for the contactee to carry out · · his prescribed mission.19 Along with these personal qualities, all the contactees had he experience of entering and/ or flying in a saucer. This ex­ . erience seemed to undergo an evolution in the contactee 1 iterature. Adamski, who wrote first, observed the s aucer !close up but could not enter it. Bethurum, the second con­ r 1tactee of 1 95 3 , entered the s aucer but it did not leave the ound . The next year Fry claimed that he went from New Mexico to New York City. In Adamski's second book ( 1 955 ) , , e claimed to have flown to the moon; he did not actually and but saw all its wonders-inhabitants, cities, plants­ hrough a special viewing apparatus. He saw Venus the same ay. Angelucci went further. In addition to riding in a saucer, e was mysticaly transported to the planet Lucifer, previously j 1 piece of a larger planet that had existed in another time zone

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and had been destroyed in an ancient war before the aliens were benevolent. In Menger's 1 9 59 account, his flying saucer

landed on the moon, where the inhabitants gave him a sight­ seeing tour. Menger was the only one of the five major con­ tactees who claimed to have landed on a celestial body after a flight in a flying saucer. Similarly, each claimed to have had the earliest contact, Menger's pre-World War II claim topping the list. The escala­ tion of contactee claims appeared to be a function of trying to outdo one another in their efforts to be the most important contactee. Yet most contactees seemed reluctant to become too sensational. They preferred not to overextend themselves scientifically. Menger, who constantly escalated his claims over the years, eventually f-ound himself in completely inde­ fen sible scientific positions, and subsequent astronomical dis­ coveries forced him to recant on many of his positions. The heart of contactee literature was in the mission the space people gave the contactee. This mission provided the central rationale for the contactee's publicity-oriented behav­ ior. Adamski had to impart the Master's knowledge to Earth people so that they could avert the disaster of an atomic war. Bethurum's task was to make sure the Earth people under­ stood Aura Rhanes's message : unless Earth changed its ways, "the water in your deserts will mostly be tears." Fry obeyed Alan's order to spread the word about universal "understand­ ing" to prevent the Earth's nations from engaging in an atomic holocaust. Alan passionately directed Fry to "tell the story through your newspapers, your. radio and television sta­ tions. If necessary, shout it from the house-tops, but let the people know." The space people warned Angelucci of a terri­ ble war of extreme devastation and charged him with a Christ-like mission: "For the present you are our emissary, Orfeo, and you must act ! Even though the people of Earth laugh derisively and mock you as a lunatic, tell them about us ! " Later he emphasized, "As you love your brothers of Earth, Orfeo, fight to your dying breath to help them toward a world of love, light and unity." Menger's friends did not specifically forecast a catastrophe but did tell him that wars, torture, and destruction would result from people's "misun­ derstanding" ; Menger had to inform others of his experiences in the hope of promoting better understanding.2o The contactees had to make the Earth people believe them but had difficulty obtaining reasonable evidence to support their claimed experiences. Because Adamski's space people

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Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

1 05

did not want him to take their p ictures, be bad to rely on the Venusian's footprints and a few blurry photographs. The Air Force analyzed Adamski's photos and decided they were probably hoaxes. B etburum's evidence was a note written in French that Aura Rbanes bad supposedly translated into En­ glish and Chinese. Angelucci and Fry offered no evidence, preferring to have their stories stand o n their own merits. Menger was the only m ajor contactee to offer tangible evi­ dence. One day be chanced upon a cabin in the woods with a Satumian inside who was playing the piano ; the Satumian told Menger that be too could play th is enchanting music, even though he did not know bow to play the piano. Menger ar­ rived home to find that be could play the music be had beard, and be immediately made a commercial record album. On another occasion, one of Menger's space friends gave him "a space potato," which supposedly bad five times the protein of an Earth potato. Menger also built a small "free energy motor" from the space people's telepathic instructions ; it did nothing in particular, but Menger considered it good evi­ dence of alien visitation.2 1 Not having any reasonable evidence of their own, the con­ tactees often used the Air Force's role in the controversy to prove that flying saucers existed. Adamski and Betburum said the Air Force's secrecy in investigating UFOs constituted proof that flying saucers existed. Angelucci implied that the Air Force was a party to the space people's plans : the Air Force was handling the issue of extraterrestrial visitation "precisely as those visitors h ave anticipated and desired them to do." If the Air Force were to release all it knew about fly­ ing saucers, "It would be the beginning of national panic that no amount of sane reasoning could quell." All this, of course, proved the existence of flying saucers.22 A composite contactee formula was as follows. People from a utopian planet accidentally or by design contacted an unsuspecting human. The extraterrestrials gave the contactee a ride in their spacecraft, explained the workings of the craft, told about their own planet's civilization, and predicted d ire events to take place on Earth that also would affect the o ther planets. They endowed the contactee with a mission that, if �uccessful, would avert the calam ity, allowing Earth to exist 1D peace and harmony. The contactee, having little or no proof, embarked on a publicity campaign to get his message to the people. Adamski, Betburum, Fry, Angelucci, and Menger were the


I

1 06

The UFO Controversy in A merica

most prolific and publicized contactees but not the only ones. Minor figures existed as well, all of whom used the above for­ mula and all of whom had their local followings. Buck Nel­ son flew to Mars, Venus, and the moon; as proof, he offered to sell packets of hair from a 3 8 5-pound Venusian St. B er­ nard dog. The sp ace people took George Van Tassel on a fly­ ing saucer ride and explained the "true history" of the begin­ nings of life on Earth. George Hunt Willi a mson, one of the alleged witnesses to Adamski's first contact, claimed he could communicate with men from Mars by using a h am radio set and Ouij a board. It seemed that the Martians had heard other earthlings communicate by radio and had "managed to dope out the language." Lauro Mundo claimed to communicate telepathically with the space people. D ana Howard went to Venus, married a Venusian, and raised a family-all while she was napping on her living room couch.2s Some contactees not only publicized their experiences but used them to appe al directly for money. G eorge Van Tassel said the space people had d ictated designs for a rejuvenation machine th at would guarantee everlasting youth ; all he needed was $42,000 to develop the plans. Otis T. Carr claimed to have plans for a genuine flying saucer and succeeded in raising many thousands of dollars to build it. Although most contactees seemed to be in the flying s aucer business primarily for money, at least one, Gabriel Green.

saw the political potential as well. His California-based or­ ganization, The Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of Amer­ ica, published Thy Ki11gdom Come, a semireligious magazine.

Using the organization and magazine as a political base, Green ran for the presidency of the United States in 1 960 on a space and peace platform but dropped out of the race be­ fore the election. Then he ran for the Senate in ing over 1 7 1 , 000 votes . 24

1 962 , garner­

The contactees' chief problem was gaining publicity for their messages

and themselves.

They

did

this by writing

books, pamphlets, and tracts, presenting lectures, and attend­ ing flying saucer conventions where they

could

sell their

literature and deliver their lectures. G eorge Van Tassel's an­ nual Giant Rock Convention in Yucca Valley, California, be­ came the largest and mostly h ighly publicized of such events.

In

1 954, its first year, the convention attracted over five thou­

s and people. Here the contactees gathered to lecture about their experiences. Spectators could buy books, pamphlets,

�;


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

107

photographs, records, and other souvenirs from the con­ tactees' booths on the grounds. The conventioneers generally assumed that the space people looked favorably upon the meeting and a participant was sure to spot a flying s au cer near the area. If this did not happen, Van Tassel would sometimes send up a b alloon with flares attached to it to create some excitement and contro­ versy. At times the space people would make their presence known in mysterious ways. Gray B arker, a popular con­ tactee-oriented author and publisher, once found some blood near his book stall. He and others immediately were con­ vinced that it was "space blood" from an extraterrestrial. Be­ cause the blood did not clot as they had expected, this, Barker claimed, substantiated his theory that space people walked among them. The faithful rallied to Barker's side and attacked the skeptics who wanted an analysis of the blood be­ fore they would judge its origin. The skeptics won the debate later when the analysis proved the blood's menstrual origin.25 Numerous flying s aucer clubs held their own conventions and invited a contactee to lecture. Green's club sponsored some tremendously successful conventions in Los Angeles in the late 1 950s; thousands of people attended and one conven­ tion agenda included over forty-five speakers for a two-day event. These conventions became p art of the contactees' lec­ ture circuit. If business was slow, contactees sometimes would sponsor their own conventions, as Howard Menger did on his front lawn where excitement ran high when people spotted several blue lights rising from the back of Menger's b am. Buck Nelson, who claimed to have eaten dinner with the rulers of nearly all the planets in the solar system, held a con­ vention at his home in Missouri and was left with over nine thousand hot dogs when only three hundred people attended. 2 6 The contactees were media events, and radio and television shows helped them gain publicity. The sensationalism of the contactees' claims always provided good entertainment. In New York, Long John Nebel furnished the most consistent outlet for contactee stories on his late-night radio talk show; Menger's fame was chiefly due to his appearances on the Long John show. Steve Allen's nationally televised "Tonight" show featured many contact,ees, as did the NBC "Betty White Show" on which Truman Betburum appeared several times. In addition to the national shows, many l ocally broadcast shows helped feed the growing public feeling that the con-


I

1 08

The UFO Controversy in A merica

tactee and the contactee-oriented groups made up the essence of the UFO phenomenon. The public found it difficult to dis­ tinguish between contactee experiences and those of reputable witnesses. For example, a television producer would invite Keyhoe to appear on a show with a contactee, not under­ standing the difference between these two people. Keyhoe usually refused these invitations because he did not want to be associated in any way with the contactees.27 The growth of flying saucer clubs in the mid-fifties clearly indicated the contactees' success in gaining publicity and their subsequent domination of the UFO scene. These clubs were of two types : contactee clubs and contactee-oriented clubs. Many contactees organized their followers into local and na­ tional clubs designed to propagate their message. Daniel Fry, using Alan's message about the importance of understanding in world politics, formed "understanding'' units. With fifteen in California alone and more around the country, Fry had a ready market for his publication Understanding. George Van Tassel established the College of Universal Wisdom, the en­ trance requirement being a subscription to Van Tassel's jour­ nal, Proceedings. George Adamski formed the Adamski Foundation, and Truman Bethurum the Sanctuary of Thought.2s The majority of flying saucer clubs were contactee-orient­ ed. They were not centered around an individual contactee, but the members believed contactee stories or, as least kept an open mind. Most of these people did not discriminate be­ tween Keyhoe's brand of serious UFO investigation and con­ tactee claims. In 1 9 54 the anticontactee Saucers magazine il­ lustrated this confusion when it p olled its readers about whom they considered to be the best authors on UFOs. Key­ hoe came in first, followed by Adamski, Scully (Behind the Flying Saucers) , and Fry. Similarly, the Space Observers League of Spokane, Washington, fully supported Keyhoe and his theories and unhesitatingly accepted Daniel Fry's claims. Over 1 50 contactee-oriented clubs existed in the mid- 1 9 50s. Invariably, they held conventions and sponsored contactee lectures. Also, the contactee clubs blended into occult areas, such as astrology and mysticism, and were able to assimilate many of the previously existing occult and psychic clubs which originally were not a part of the flying saucer world. For example, an editorial in The Spacecrafter, the newsletter of the Phoenix, Arizona, Spacecraft Research Association, said the club's objective was to "acquaint ourselves with as


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

1 09

many facts as possible concerning UFO's, Metaphysics, Mys­ ticism, and other related subj ects. "29 Some contactee-oriented clubs subscribed to one of the more outlandish flying saucer theories. It held that if a person learned too much about flying saucers, or if he discovered the "secret" of their origin, then h e might expect a visit from the mysterious and frightening Men In Black (MIB ) . The MIBs were aliens from an unknown planet who would silence any unfortunate individual by threats, h arassment, or worse. The MIB theory was remarkably resilient and provided a constant source of anxiety for some individuals who delved deeply into the saucer mystery. ao The contactees and their publicity posed a serious threat to legitimate UFO investigation and research groups. These groups thought the contactees were confusing the public about whose activities were legitimate and whose were not. In addition, non-contactee-oriented UFO investigation groups were not nearly as popular as the flying saucer clubs and did not h ave as much support. The investigation and research groups tried to solve the UFO problem and refused to accept contactee claims, even though the members read about them in periodicals. As the contactees gained popularity, the inves­ tigation groups took on the difficult task of exposing them but were not often successful, for the contactee controversy created factions within their ranks. Orbit, a publication of one research group and one of the best periodicals in the early 1 950s, folded partially because its readers shifted to contactee-oriented journals. Similarly, the Grand Rapids Fly­ ing Saucer Club, which published UFOR UM, died when members became split over contactee claims. Most noncon­ tactee groups published articles determinedly hostile to con­ tactee claims. James Moseley's Nexus and Saucer News, Max Miller's Saucers, Lex Mebane's Civilian Saucer Investigation Newsletter, The UFO Newsletter, and other periodicals fea­ tured extensive exposes of Menger, Adamski, Van Tassel, and others. Bl To Keyhoe and Coral Lorenzen ( the latter of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) , the contactees were dangerous enemies. From 1 95 3 to the early 1 9 60s, Keyhoe and Lorenzen spent much time trying to correct the damage to the legitimacy of UFO research. Keyhoe complained to Lorenzen in 1 954 that he spent a lot of time "cleaning up" after the contactees or "getting the record straight" about their claims. Lorenzen wanted to expose Adamski by proving


1 10

The UFO Controversy in A merica

his photographs were fakes but, as Keyhoe pointed out, "Knowing it and proving it are, unfortunately, not the same thing."32 Eventually some of the exposes began to have an effect on the contactees' claims. Adamski's "witnesses" recanted many of their statements and considerably weakened his case, al­ though he maintained his claims until his death in 1 9 65. When evidence mounted in 1 959 that Howard Menger's ex­ periences were fallacious, he tried to salvage his veracity by claiming his story was "allegorical" and his book "fact/ fi� tion." A New York lawyer, Jules B. St. Germain, deve i oped a scheme to prove George Van Tassel's experiences a hoax. He mailed Van Tassel some fake flying saucer and occupant pho­ tographs that he had taken in his home ; Van Tassel insisted immediately that the photographs were "conclusive proof" and used them to bolster his own contactee claims. When Van Tassel appeared on the Long John Nebel show, St. Ger­ main also appeared unannounced and asked Van Tassel about the photographs. Van Tassel insisted on �eir authentic­ i ty and St. Germain took the opportunity to expose the hoax, thereby putting Van Tassel in an embarrassing and indefensi­ ble position. Daniel Fry, stung by charges that he had fabri­ cated his story, offered to take a lie detector test. He failed it. He later claimed that the test was rigged against him. Eventu­ ally many minor figures dropped out of flying saucer world and some were imprisoned for fraud. Space ride claimant Rheinholdt Schmidt and saucer builder Otis T. Carr received prison sentences when convicted of bilking people out of thousands of dollars to develop a flying saucer or to mine for "free energy crystals. "33 In spite of the exposes, Angelucci, Adamski, Fry, and Be­ thurum steadfastly refused to recant no matter what evidence their critics used against them. The contactee clubs thrived during the 1 9 50s, even though their numbers decreased by the late 1 9 50s and early 1 9 60s and the minor figures faded. The contactees' influence on the public and press hampered serious UFO researchers' efforts to legitimize the subject. The UFO phenomenon had always encountered ridicule, such that many reputable individuals were afraid to report sightings and scientists refused to view the subject seriously. Indeed, ridicule was probably the most decisive factor that prevented professional people and the public from treating the subject seriously. The contactees' emergence and their popularity and publicity succeeded in entrenching even deeper the ridicul


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

111

factor in the public imagination. From the mid- 1 9 50s to 1 972 people with little knowledge of the phenomenon constantly confused the "lunatic fringe" with serious UFO investigators and researchers. Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York in its newsletter bemoaned the fact that contactees received so much publicity in the news media. This massive publicity, the article stated, "conspires to help the audacious 'contactee' on his path to fame and fortune-and in the process, to help wreck the reputation of flying saucers, which are more and more indissolubly linked , in the public mind, with the fan­ tasies of these well-publicized tale-spinners."34 The contactees scared off m any people who were genuinely interested in the subject. Even Ruppelt purportedly felt the effects of the contactees. He revised his 1 95 6 book in 1 9 59 and totally reversed his open-minded position ; he stated posi­ tively that UFOs as a unique phenomenon did not exist and attempted to erase h is identification with the phenomenon. Although no one can know for sure his reasons for this rever­ sal (he died of a heart attack in 1 9 60 ) , his wife stated years later that the constant agitation of the contactees and their followers, along with lack of proof for the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis, contributed to Ruppelt's reversal. The Air Force was pleased with the reversal, and Project Blue Book chief Robert Friend fed Ruppelt information through the Office of In­ formation to help him write the new chapters.s:; Serious UFO researchers dismissed the people who believed the contactee stories ( contactee followers) as psychologically disturbed innocents with a will to believe or, simply, "the lunatic fringe." The situation was more complex than this. It involved a logical belief system that evolved in contactee fol­ lower thinking and acted as a buffer to outside attacks on them. As such, it is necessary to separate the contactees from their followers. Contactee followers believed, as did legitimate UFO in­ vestigators and researchers, that flying saucers ( UFOs ) exist­ ed. The difference between the two groups was the reasoning that followed the belief. Most serious UFO investigators ei­ ther refused to speculate on the origin of the objects or be­ lieved the extraterrestrial hypothesis best explained the evi­ dence. They were split over whether to accept reputable witness claims of occupants sightings as part of the evidence, and many were hostile to any claims of communication. When a contactee claimed direct social intercourse with an alien and had no reasonable evidence to back up even the


112

The UFO Controversy in A merica

fact that he had sighted a UFO, most serious UFO investigators denied the claim as a fabrication. The contactee followers, on the other h and , were not so concerned with the evidence. Believing the saucer existed and, from available reports, were products of an extraterres­ trial intelligence with a highly advanced technology, the con­ tactee followers accepted contactee claims based on the con­ tactees' sincerity. They did not ask for evidence. Moreover, already assuming that the aliens could routinely explore space, the contactee followers logically accepted the notion that the aliens must have overcome the problems of advanced technology ( pollution, waste, and destructive weapons ) . And if their technological capabil ities had not destroyed them through war, it was probably because they desired to preserve life and were able to do so. Hence, the aliens had a moral sense. Therefore, when a contactee sincerely said he met a moral, benevolent, technologically-advanced space person from a utopian world who wanted to help save Earth, the contactee followers' logic dictated that the contactee was tell­ ing the truth. The key here is the sincerity of the contactees ; all the major ones seemed to have h ad more than the re­ quired amount. Serious investigators were always struck by the contactees' sincerity and how p eople seemed to want to believe them. The contactee followers, then, based the ir belief on their own logical system. They did not ask What are they? or Are they here? but Why are they here? They went past the ac­ cepted thought of serious UFO investigators and directly dealt with the implications of extraterrestrial i ntervention in human affairs. John Godwin, in Occult A merica, equated the contactee followers with the New Guinea Cargo Cultists. This was perhaps unfair. The contactees did not regard the space people as deities. They were always careful to say that the space people had advanced to their high level only with God's help. The aliens' religion was compatible with Christi­ anity. Believers d id not h ave to respect and adm ire atheists. The contactees characterized themselves as messengers and did not insist that they were deities ( although they came close to this position by equating their mission with Jesus' mis­ sion) . s 6 Robert Ellwood, a religion scholar, suggested that the role of messenger placed the contactee in the shaman tradition. This argument has merit. The shaman is a man in special communication with the sp irit world, fighting evil spirits for

·) '•


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

1 13

the good of the community. He acquires his role either through heredity or a sudden, unexpected vision, trance, or seizure. If the contactees did h ave a shaman role, then the contactee groups could be sects. Most groups possessed a body of writings or teachings and a dogma to guide the mem­ bers' thought and behavior.37 Other scholars have not been so generous in their appraisal of the contactee followers. Because of the religious and sensa­ tional aspects of contactee thought, some academicians have characterized the contactee followers as insane or as lunatics. H. Taylor Buckner, a Berkeley sociologist, observed that the typical contactee club members were poorly educated, elderly, widowed or single women with physical and mental infirmities, older infirm men, and younger "schizophrenics." Although such people most probably belonged to these clubs, they were not the only members. People of all ages, classes, and, to a lesser degree, educational backgrounds, belonged. For instance, Leon Festinger's small, Minnesota-based, con­ tactee-oriented group, discussed in When Prophecy Fails, consisted mainly of young and educated people. Basically, though, contactee followers were gullible people who, through lack of adequate factual information about the UFO phe­ nomenon, formulated a belief system that easily incorporated the contactees' claims as fact.ss Like the contactees, the Hollywood motion picture industry moved in early to capitalize on public interest in UFOs. The first films with flying saucer themes predated contactee litera­ ture by two years, perhaps because the industry was quicker to realize the market potential of the flying saucer theme. The subject of flying saucers was ideally suited for the movies. Using spectacular special effects, a film maker could exploit the sensational implications of the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis. Both the movies and the contactees dwelled on the fantasy aspects of UFOs, but whereas the contactees pictured the extraterrestrials as basically beneficient but with a poten­ tial for hostility, Hollywood portrayed the space people as both beneficient and hostile, with an emphasis on the latter. For most motion pictures about flying saucers, the destructive potential of hostile beings from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization was a standard theme.a9 The first and perhaps best film with a flying saucer motif was Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still.40 Released in 1 95 1 , it contained most elements of later contactee litera­ ture. A handsome benevolent being from a utopian planet


1 14

.

The UFO Controversy in A merica

landed his saucer near the White House and brought the message that atomic testing was harming other planets. The alien was semi-immortal ; his life span, which only God could end, could be hundreds of years long. The Earth people reacted with hostility and attempted to destroy him, but he escaped, mingled with the p opulace, and succeeded in deliver­ ing his message to Earth's m ajor scientists. The film brought together the themes of the alien as beneficient, the Earth people as hostile, the dangers of the atomic bomb, the alien's ability to walk on Earth incognito, and immortality. But the film left out the messenger-the contactee. Because the themes in the film were so much like later contactee litera­ ture, it is possible that some contactees may have drawn upon the film as a source for their ideas. The 1 9 5 1 Howard Hawks film The Thing was the first to present the extraterrestrials-as-hostile theme. In it an alien crashed in a flying saucer and brought h avoc to a group of scientists who tried to capture him. The movie portrayed the alien as intelligent but bent on purposeless, irrational destruc­ tion. The alien strongly resembled Frankenstein's monster. In the end, Earth people destroyed the alien and the movie avoided the problem of the alien's origin and his purpose on Earth. Some of the other characters in the movie reflected popular thought about the Air Force's UFO investigation in 1 95 1 by poking fun at the Project Grudge report, which stated that all UFO sightings were mistakes. After Earth people confirmed the existence of the downed flying saucer, they read portions of the Grudge report aloud amidst general hilarity and ridicule. The Red Planet Mars ( 1 952 ) did not picture a flying sau­ cer but did p ortray Martians who could communicate with Earth through radio signals, a Ia George Hunt Williamson. In It Came From Outer Space ( 1 9 5 3 ) extraterrestrials acciden­ tally crashed on Earth and tried to repair their craft when hostile Earth people confronted them. The extraterrestrials managed to escape before they were hurt. Only one Earth person in the town tried to keep the townspeople from destroying the al iens. Although not a contactee, this man-hero interceded on the aliens' behalf to give them time to repair their craft. The War of the Worlds ( 1 9 53 ) featured hostile extraterrestrials who attempted to destroy Earth but met de­ feat at the hands of bacteria in Earth's atmosphere . The idea that a small group of extraterrestrials wanted to colonize Earth was the central theme in This Island Earth ( 1 9 55 ) . A

·


Contactees, Clubs, and Confusion

1 15

benevolent alien with a moral sense believed that the colo­ nization plan was wrong and s aved Earth by disobeying his fel­ low aliens and then committing suicide. Invasion of the Saucer Men ( 1 9 5 7 ) p arodied other s aucer films. It featured a feebly humorous account of extraterrestrials who overtook people by injecting alcohol into their veins and m aking them drunk. The aliens melted when lights were shined on them. Even Keyhoe's b ook, Flying Saucers From Outer Space, underwent the Hollywood treatment and became a standard science fiction film, Earth Versus the Flying Saucers ( 1 95 6 ) . I t did accurately portray UFO shapes and m aneuvers b ased on actual witness reports. But the aliens in it were hostile and addicted to blowing up Earth rockets as they were sent aloft. The aliens wanted to subjugate Earth and went on a destruc­ tive rampage against the earthlings and their cities. The hero-scientist invented a special antimagnetic weapo n with which he finally destroyed the aliens. The film's producers persuaded Keyhoe to sell them the rights to his book by tell­ ing h im that they were making a documentary on UFOs. When the feature came out, Keyhoe was angry ; he refused to make personal appearances for the fil m and tried unsuccess­ fully to have his name removed from the cred its.41 The rise of the contactees and of flying sau cer movies came at the s ame time as the Air Force's increased secreey coupled with contactee publicity fed the UFO controversy. The public was confused. On the one hand, it heard about the alleged Air Force cover-up and, o n the other hand, it read about UFO sightings in the press and either heard about or read Keyhoe's books. In the resulting confusion it tended to equate Keyhoe with the contactees, which hindered Key­ hoe's determined fight to bring respectability to a systematic study of the UFO phenomenon. Moreover, the contactees, their followers, and Hollywood movies in the mid- 1 950s hardened the aura of illegitimacy surrounding the UFO phenomenon. While the contactees and the movie industry gave the UFO phenomenon publ icity the Air Force wanted to avoid, they also-by focusing on the sen­ s ational and fantastic-lent credenc e to the Air Force position that reports of unique aerial obj ects of possible extraterres­ trial origin were groundless. At the least, the movies and the contactees created a misleading impression about the nature of the phenomenon. Correcting this impression occupied much of Keyhoe's and other serious investigators' energies during the 1 9 50s. Keyhoe's attempts to disassociate legitimate


1 16

The UFO Controversy in A merica

UFO investigators from contactees and their followers com足 plicated h is co nti nui ng fight with the Air Force. The skir足 mishes continued in the 1 9 50s, wi th both s id e s using new resources and reinforcements to try to win the battle .


6

1 9 5 4 TO 1 9 5 8: CONTINUED SKIRM ISHES A ND THE R IS E OF NICA P

After the contactee and civilian UFO organizations entered the UFO controversy, they engaged in a series of skirmishes with the Air Force over its UFO program. During this period from 1 954 to 1958, the civilian UFO groups found a leader in the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenome­ na (NICAP ) . The Air Force reorganized its investigative and public relations . systems, and both parties formulated their positions on the issues of Air Force secrecy, congressional in­ vestigations, and publicity about UFOs. The skirmishes centered around the Air Force's position as keeper of the knowledge. It was the only official agency that continually collected, investigated, and analyzed sighting re­ ports. The Air Force h ad the most comprehensive data avail­ able tucked away in its classified files. The civilian UFO or­ ganizations, following Keyhoe's lead, criticized it for what they thought was a conspiracy of silence to prevent panic among the people. They demanded that the Air Force make the files public. But the Air Force refused, because of the Robertson panel's report and because the files d id contain some classified intelligence information. By continually react­ ing to Air Force pronouncements, regulations, and policies, the civilian groups made the Air Force the prime mover in the controversy and thereby relinquished some of their own autonomy. Yet the Air Force stimulated this reaction by de­ nying the potential significance of the UFO phenomenon and by suspecting the civilian groups' intentions. Air Force secrecy policies made UFO proponents some­ what paranoid. Civilian UFO investigators James Moseley and Leon Davidson thought UFOs were actually American

1 17


1 18 .

The UFO Controversy in A merica

secret we apons. Moseley said the Air Force used them to "absorb excess radioactivity" in the atmosphere. Davidson, while originally thinking they were secret weapons, later de­ veloped the theory that UFOs were nothing but a CIA "front"; the CIA, D avidson explained, h ad maneuvered or created all UFO club activity, contactees, books, and so on to confound the S oviets about our technological capabilities.! The clearest example of extrapolating sinister ideas from non­ information was Keyhoe's theory that the top levels of gov­ ernment perpetrated the flying saucer "conspiracy" : "Actu­ ally, the Air Force is not the o nly agency involved; the CIA, National Security Council, FBI, Civil Defense, all are tied in at top levels. The White House, of course, will have the final word as to what people are to be told, and when." Keyhoe also believed the Air Force conspired -against him personally. He wrote Coral Lorenzen, head of the Aerial Phenom ena Research Organization, in August and September of 1 954, that it might try to "muzzle" him by recalling him to active Marine Corps duty and putting him under military restric­ tions. He thought the Air Force might try to silence Coral Lorenzen as well and devised a written signal for her to use in case this happened.2 In this atmosphere of suspicion and near paranoia, the Air Force moved to counter the cri ticis m by reorganizing its UFO program to minimize public interest and to implement the Robertson p anel recommendations. In March 1 954 it ap­ pointed as head of Proj ect Blue Book Captain Charles Hardin. And because Hardin's two-man staff could not inves­ tigate the large number of UFO reports coming into ATIC, the task fell on the 4 602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron ( AISS ) , a division of the Air Defense Command . Actually Ruppelt began this transfer during his last months as head of Blue Book, but his purpose was to supplement and expand Blue Book's investigative capabilities, not abolish them.s The transfer meant that Blue Book would analyze and evaluate the data, only making special field investigations when ATIC felt they were important enough. The first activity in the reorganization was to teach the 4 602d personnel, who were trained only to identify planes, how to investigate and evaluate UFO reports. Hardin, Hynek, and members of the 4 602d devised a "UFOB Guide" for th is purpose. The manual described the characteristics of bal­ loons, aircraft, meteors, and so on, and also explained some of the problems field investigators were likely to encounter. It


Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

1 19

became the stand ard guide for all Air Force field investiga­ tions.4 In l ate 1 9 54 the 4602d started its program o f making prelimin ary investigations and screening out reports too fragmentary for evaluation or easily explainable by known activities or phenomena. The 4 602d then sent the rest of the reports to ATIC for analysis and evaluation, and ATIC in­ formed the 4 602d if a follow-up investigation was warranted. Almost immediately, h owever, the 4 602d found itself doing ATIC's job of analyzing the d ata in an effort to find solutions to the sighting reports. The Air Force did not consider this a violation of AFR 200-2. Instead, it saw that the field investi­ gators could save ATIC much trouble by their on-the-spot identifications and moved to regularize th is aspect of the 4602d's function by declaring that the squadron should con­ duct follow-up investigations when the evidence suggested that a positive identification could be made.5 At first the 4602d classified a large number of reports as unknown. This was unacceptable. In February 1 9 5 5 an ATIC officer told th e commander of AISS that investigators should strive to solve as m any cases as possible to reduce u nknowns to a minimum. To help with this task, because the very nature of UFO reports m ilitated against positive identifica­ tions, the Air Force devised a new classification system. Whereas previously investigators placed reports in e ither the identified, insufficient data, unreliable, or unknown c ategories, the Air Force now broadened the identified category to in­ clude probable and possible. These vague subcategories al­ lowed the investigators to identify a report b ased on their es­ timate of the p rob ab ility or possib ility that the sighting was a known phenomenon. If investigators could not definitely iden­ tify a sighting, they could solve the problem, and the case, by placing it in one of these two broadly defined categories. In press releases and final Blue Book evaluation statistics, the probable and possible subcategories d isappe ared and Blue Book listed the sightings simply as identified. a In March 1 95 5 the Air Force issued a revision of the "UFOB Guide" to the 4602d. In it the Air Force differenti­ ated between u nsolved and solved cases. Unsolved cases bad contrad ictory and confli cting d ata. All others the investigators could solve, the guide explained, in a truly "scientific" man­ ner by looking at the direction in which the preponderance of data leaned and then placing the report into one of the cate­ gories of identification as outlined in the guide. The "UFOB


120

The UFO Controversy in A merica

Guide" called upon investigators to use "common sense" wh ich, presumably, would rule out the possibility that the witness had observed anything truly extraordinary.7 The new methods of investigating and identifying UFO re­ ports worked m arvelously. The percentage of unknowns fell from 60 percent in August 1 954 to 5.9 percent in 1 9 5 5 and then to 0.4 percent in 1 956. Of the 3 3 5 reports the 4602d investigated in the last half of 1 95 6, it forwarded only two to ATIC as unsolved. By the end of 1 957 the 4 602d had virtu­ ally taken over ATIC's j ob of analyzing UFO reports. a The modus operandi of the 4602d was that the UFO prob­ lem was a public relations problem and no one could ever have seen anything truly extraordinary in the sky. The Air Force assumed that UFO sightings resulted from the "Buck Rogers trauma"-a mixture of technological advance, cold­ war fears, and the influence of science fiction. The only justi­ fication for investigating UFO reports, therefore, was that en­ emy guided missiles might resemble UFOs and the Air Force had to investigate these reports for national defense reasons.9 The 4602d envisioned its job as that of allaying public hys­ teria by systematically squelching rumors that UFOs represented an invasion from outer space . But the 4602d real­ ized it would h ave only p artial success in stopping reports, since "emotionally unstable" people still reported UFOs, and in great numbers. Indeed, the number of reports coming in disturbed the 4 602d, and it looked to public relations for part of the answer: p erhaps the very knowledge that the 4602d in­ vestigated UFO reports created public hysteria which, in tum, created more UFO reports. Whatever the reason, though, the 4602d was never able to affect the number of reports sent to it. The 4 602d's methodology allowed the Air Force to broaden its public relations campaign. With strategically placed personnel making immediate identifications, the Air Force claimed that its investigating capabilities were more "scientific" ; the more accurate information coming into ATIC was reducing substantially the number of unknowns. Using the data gathered through the new procedures, the Air Force stepped up its campaign to emphasize that its UFO program was not secret and that UFOs were not unusual. The Air Force explained that the 20 percent to 30 percent unknown rate for the previous 1 947 to 1 952 period resulted from inad­ equate data and poor reporting and cited the current less


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than 1 0 percent unknown rate as evidence for this explana­ tion.10 But no matter what statistics the Air Force gave, it could not convince UFO proponents to accept at face value state­ ments about its objectivity and openness. The Air Force re­ fused to declassify its sighting reports and thus found itself in a dilemma : the s ame p olicies it defended handicapped its public relations efforts. By refuting the secrecy charges while at the same time refusing to declassify the sighting reports, the Air Force incurred even greater criticism and appeared to be covering up as the critics charged. Furthermore, in its zeal to dispel the notion that it had at one time considered the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis seriously, the Air Force denied that certain essential documents existed and that pivotal events had taken place. Spokesmen denied the existence of General Twining's 1 947 letter, which stated that the objects were "real," and which was the impetus for UFO program. They denied that the 1 948 "Estimate of the Situation" had ever existed. They denied that Dewey Fournet had conducted a UFO maneuvers study in 1 952. And they denied that the Robertson panel ever had met. Privately the Air Force con­ tended that declassification of its UFO files could lead to an­ other saucer scare ; publicly it claimed that its classification policies were necessary to protect witnesses' names and the capabilities of classified electronic equipment that might have been involved in investigating a sighting.u Mass Media coverage in 1 9 54 about UFOs boosted the Air Force's public relations campaign. Once again the urge to ex­ plain came to the fore. Charlotte Knight, in Collier's, ex­ plained that Air Force high altitude balloons accounted for virtually all UFO sightings. Siegfried Mandel, confused about the contactees, lumped Adamski and Keyhoe together when he reviewed several books on UFOs for the Saturday Review. Mandel said that these two writers exploited the anxieties of the times "to create infantile illusions, fears, and hopes rang­ ing from facile solutions to world conflicts to the saucers­ will-get-you bugaboo." He hoped readers "with a normal degree of objectivity" realized UFOs were "auto-suggestive myths." When extraterestrial visitors arrived, Mandel stated positively, they would approach "reliable" people and present unmistakable credentials of their galactic origin." He recom­ mended Menzel's book as a "potent antidote" to the other writers. Wartime head of the German V-2 rocket develop­ ment, Dr. Walter Dornberger, told a Newsweek reporter that


1 22

The UFO Controversy in A merica

UFOs were o nly violent eddies of air that spun so fast their atoms became unstable and emitted light; this accounted for 98 to 99 percent of all sightings and the rest were natural phenomena. "No one is going to convince me of visitors from space," Dornberger said, "until they bring in one of those little guys and sit him on my desk." 1 2 Menzel reiterated h is feelings at the International Astro­ nomical Union in Dublin, Ireland ; when some of the astrono­ mers began to d iscuss UFOs, Menzel exclaimed that "such fantastic nonsense has no part in business dealt with on such a h igh scientific level as at these meetings." Even President Eisenhower seemed to help the Air Force's public relations endeavors. He stated at a news conference th at a trusted Air Force official had told him the notion that UFOs came "from any outside planet or any other place" was "completely inac­ curate." A New York Times reporter interviewed an Air Force spokesman after Eisenhower's comment and said that "If the Air Force were not tactful it might scoff at the whole business publicly. " Later, after asking Air Force headquarters about UFOs, the s ame reporter explained that "talk about fly­ ing saucers is one of those delusions that from time to time sweep the popular mind, especially in time of stress. " 1 3 Meanwhile, the Air Force made more direct debunking ef­ forts to prevent a saucer scare. An article in the March 1 9 54 issue of A merican A viation said that the Pentagon "definitely attributes" the latest wave of UFO sightings to Keyhoe's Fly­ ing Saucers From Outer Space, which, the article explained, gained notoriety by affecting an official air with the help of an Air Force "underling" (AI Chop ) who was no longer with the service . u Keyhoe continued h i s counterattack against the Air Force in h is third book, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, published in 1 955. In it he again put forth h is conspiracy-of-silence the­ ory, but this time he had new facts to back it up : the issuance of Air Force Regulation 200-2, part of which prohibited the release of UFO reports to the public, and of Joint-Army­ Navy-Air Force-Publication (JANAP ) 1 46, which made pub­ lic d isclosure of a UFO sighting described in the JANAP form a criminal offense ; the Air Force's insistence on includ­ ing disclaimers in Keyhoe's Look article and the efforts to discredit him. He concluded once again that high-ranking Air Force officials knew more than they were telling and that a small group of Pentagon conspirators were directing the Air Force policy to the country's detriment. This "Silence Group"

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within the Pentagon, Keyhoe said, used censorship to prevent hysteria. He realized that such action might be due to a high motive but warned that censorship endangered democratic in­ stitutions and that the "Air Force's insistence that it has no answer only heightens the possibility of hysteria." To bolster this theory, he listed over a hundred puzzling UFO cases and weak or ridiculous Air Force explanations for them.l5 Believing that his new b ook would boost his cause, Keyhoe did not know that the Air Force still h ad an important card to play, a card it had been holding since 1 9 5 3 . It was Project Blue Book Special Report Number 1 4, the updated results of the Battelle Memorial Institute's statistical study of UFOs which Ruppelt had initiated in 1 9 52. Although it is unclear why the Air Force decided to release Special Report Number 14 at the same time that The Flying' Saucer Conspiracy came out, Keyhoe's assertion that the Air Force did it to counteract his book seems consistent with the Air Force's policy of op­ posing any publicity that might lead to another saucer scare. 1 6

Special Report Number 1 4 was puzzling. The purpose of the study was to determine, through statistical techniques, whether anything flying in the air "represented technological developments not known to this country." A secondary pur­ pose was to develop a model of a flying saucer and to find common patterns and trends in the movements of the report­ ed objects. But the researchers could neither devise any "veri­ fied" model of flying saucers ( apparently assuming UFOs should come in one shap e ) nor find any physical evidence for them. Similarly, the researchers could find no patterns or trends in sightings, although, the report said, "the inac­ curacies inherent in this type of data, in addition to the in­ completeness of a large proportion of the reports, may have obscured any patterns or trends that otherwise would have been evident."17 The researchers did find that the more complete the data and the better the report, the more likely it was that the re­ port would remain unknown. Nevertheless-even after saying they could not identify the unknowns-the researchers found that "the probability that any of the UNKNOWNS considered in this study are 'flying saucers' is concluded to be extremely small, since the most complete and reliable reports from the present data, when isolated and studied, conclusively failed to reveal even a rough model, and since the data as a whole failed to reveal any marked patterns or trends." Yet the researchers concluded that as a result of incomplete data and


1 24

The UFO Controversy in A merica

inadequate scientific measurements, "it cannot be absolutely proven that 'flying saucers' do not exist." But they also coneluded that "on the basis of this evaluation of the information, it is considered to b e highly improbable that any of the reports of unidentified aerial objects examined in this study represent observations of technological developments outside the range of present-day scientific k.nowledge. "l S W'hen Secretary of the Air Force Donald Quarles released Special Report 14 on October 25, 1 955, he made several statements to the press about the entire UFO issue. He said that no one had reason to believe flying saucers had flown over the United States and that the 3 percent unknowns dur­ ing 1 954 would be identifiable if more information were available (the latter being contrary to what the Battelle Insti­ tute found ) . Also, he explained that the Air Force had re­ cently tested a new, circular, vertical-take-off jet and had con­ tracted with a Canadian firm, the A. V. Roe Company, to buy a circular flying craft. These two planes, Quarles stated, would probably cause UFO sightings in the future. Keyhoe's reaction to this last statement was that it was calculated to deceive the public,19 The Air Force hoped the timely release of Special Report 14 would quiet the UFO controversy once and for all, es­ pecially because the report was a scientific study that found no evidence for UFOs being interplanetary objects. But in­ stead of laying the controversy to rest, Special Report 1 4 created a new battlefront. Keyhoe and other civilian UFO proponents charged that the Battelle Institute had not an­ alyzed the best cases for its study and had avoided using many important cases that the Air Force listed as unidentified in its files. Keyhoe asserted that the "cream of the crop" re­ ports on which the Battelle Institute based its model of a fly­ ing saucer were in reality weak cases, and that the Institute deliberately used them to convey the impression that all witnesses saw different phenomena. Keyhoe criticized the In­ stitute for being b iased in favor of explaining the reports and for studying only a few foreign sightings and none before 1 947, which intimated that the phenomenon began in 1 947. Finally, Keyhoe faulted the Institute for using the statistics on unknowns to imply that only 9 percent of all sightings and 3 percent of the recent sightings were unknown; in fact, Key­ hoe said, 20 to 30 percent of all sightings were unknown and the 3 percent was for the first three months of 1 9 55 o nl y.2o Ruppelt criticized Special Report 14 as well. In a widely

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Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

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quoted letter (February 1 95 6 ) to UFO researcher Max Mil­ ler, Ruppelt said the most astounding thing about the report was that it said all but a few UFOs were explainable. This shocked him because he had initiated the project and knew that the study's purpose was not to solve the overall UFO problem, as the Air Force made it out to be, but to find un­ known technological developments. Moreover, Ruppelt said, "after spending a considerable amount of money, statistical methods were no good for a study like this. They didn't prove a thing. The results were such that by interpreting them in different ways you could prove anything you wanted to. This is not a good study." Ruppelt could not understand why the Air Force had held on to the report for two years and re­ leased a 1 9 5 3 study·in 1 95 5 as the "latest hot dope."21 Special Report 14 also created another mystery and endless speculation about its significance. Project Blue Book had previously issued twelve status reports, the last one in September 1 95 3 . Civilians interested in the UFO controversy wanted to know what happened to report number 1 3 , and what secret and perhaps sensational information it contained. UFO researchers spent much time over the years trying to find the phantom report, but to no avail. The Air Force claimed in 1 97 3 that material intended for report number 1 3 was subsequently included in Special Report 14, but this did not stop the speculation.22 At first Special Report 14 seemed to have the desired ef­ fect. Time magazine science editor Jonathan N . Leonard added to the paper's ongoing hostility toward proponents of the theory that UFOs had an extraterrestrial origin by using Special Report 14 as a basis for a scathing review of Key­ hoe's The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, ·popular writer Harold T. Wilkens' Flying Saucers Uncensored, and Ruppelt's The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. Leonard characterized all UFO proponents as cultists and said one subcult included those who believe in "heretical conspiracy in the depths of the Pentagon." Keyhoe, the chief cultist, wanted to become a martyr to the cause. Ruppelt's book was the "longest and dul­ lest" of the three and, while more sensible, still well within the cultist range. But, explained Leonard, while these books were in preparation, "the Air Force released the results of a massive, intelligent, painstaking and detailed analysis of all flying saucer reports," employing "excellent scientists" with "elaborate apparatus." Leonard favorably outlined Special Report 1 4's conclusions and called it a "cruel blockbuster" for


1 26

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

Ruppelt and other "cultists." Captain Hardin, commenting happily on the review, reported that "It would appear from this review that the downgrading and subsequent release of Special Report 14 is serving well the purpose for which it was intended. "23 In spite of Hardin's optimism, th ough, the criticism of Special Report 1 4 was so intense that the Air Force and Blue Book became more sensitive than ever, and the contro­ versy did not subside. Instead, the Air Force became em­ broiled in a protracted fight about m aking the report avail­ able to the public. Perhaps uneasy about the criticisms and inadequacies, the Air Force had printed only a hundred copies for in-house distribution, particularly for every major public information officer in the country. But pressure from UFO researchers persuaded California Representative John E. Moss of the House Subcommittee on Government Informa­ tion to force the Air Force to print and distribute more cop­ ies.24 Despite its controversial nature, by 1 95 6 Special Report 14 had beco i:n e the cornerstone of the Air Force's position on UFOs. This position, that the Air Force had "scientifi­ cally" studied UFOs and found no evidence for their exis­ tence as a unique phenomenon, was not limited to public pro­ nouncements and press releases ; it prevailed within the Air Force staff as well. Although Keyhoe charged that the Air Force stifled interest in UFOs, no information exists to indi­ cate that any member of Project Blue Book or ATIC ever thought UFOs constituted anything other than an explainable phenomenon. Captain George T. Gregory, who became head of Blue Book when Captain Hardin transferred in April 1 956, best il­ lustrated this attitude when h e briefed members of the Air In­ telligence Training School. Gregory, a zealous UFO debunker, told the staff that the 1 952 sightings definitely resulted from publicity about the subject and that the growing number of UFO clubs, books, and articl es criticizing the Air Force were contributing to a new surge of reports. According to Gregory, in 1 952 the Air Force managed to rise ab ove the hysteria of the times to investigate UFO reports "quietly, solemnly and seriously." He freely used Hynek's n ame to demonstrate the caliber of scientists who worked on the problem and found nothing unique in the atmosphere. Gregory enumerated all the latest techniques the Air Force used to study the phenom­ enon, such as the Videon diffraction grid and the radarscope

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Con tinued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

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camera. But he neglected to explain that the Air Force had installed the Videon diffraction grids even though they had failed and that the radarscope plan had been unsatisfactory. At the end of the briefing, Gregory distributed . copies of Special Report 1 4, explaining that it contained the results from "a large panel of distinguished scientists" who had in­ tensively studied and analyzed the phenomenon. Special Re­ port 14 proved, said Gregory, that there was a "total lack of evidence" to demonstrate that the objects were hostile inter­ planetary spaceships, that they represented technological development not known in this country, or that they threaten­ ed the United States.25 By 1 95 6 almost all former ATIC and Blue Book personnel had left the project. Gregory and the new officers may not have been aware of the UFO program's previous history. It is clear that from 1 95 6 to 1 9 69 no one within ATIC seriously questioned the Air Force's UFO investigative or analytical methods. Even Hynek, with his vague misgivings, willingly participated in the Air Force's plan to rid itself of the UFO problem. Hynek described the characteristic style of thinking in the Air Force around 1 9 5 6 as : "It can't be, therefore it isn't."26 Given this philosophy, Gregory and the other staff people had little or no concern with verifying the facts or val­ idating their methods and findings ; UFOs were nonsense, and any reputable scientific study would most certainly conclude the same thing. Gregory's method of analyzing reports reflected his opinion that the phenomenon did not merit serious attention. During h is tenure he made the most strenuous efforts of any Blue Book project leader to identify UFO reports regardless of the information they contained. Under Gregory, Blue Book staff routinely classified all reports from youths age ten to seven­ teen as figments of their imaginations and placed the reports in the unreliable category. The staff automatically put most sightings reported through the "Canadian-United States Com­ munications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings" channels in the insufficient data category without soliciting more information. Blue Book extended the probable category to include sightings that presented no data to indi­ cate the object could not have been an aircraft, balloon, and so forth. If a witness in his efforts to describe a UFO used words like jet-like, balloon-like, or meteor-like, Blue Book staff identified the object as a jet, balloon, or meteor. The staff did this even when the witness used the words to


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describe what the object did not look like. It also routinely placed some of the most interesting low-level or close encounter reports in the insufficient data category. Occasionally investigators mistakenly sent obvious meteor reports to Blue Book, and the staff diligently put them in the solved category. H Hynek or an investigator listed a sighting as possible, Blue Book put it in the probable category ; if originally called probable, the project labeled it definite.27 Blue Book also continued in its efforts to eliminate reports because the Air Force still felt anxious about the steady stream of UFO publicity emanating from private souces. Per­ haps the most serious threat to the Air Force in 1 9 56 was the release of Clarence Greene's semidocumentary motion pic­ ture, U.F.O. Greene had received the technical assistance of Chop, Fournet, and Ruppelt on the film and also had ob­ tained copies of the recently declassified Great Falls ( Mon­ tana) and Tremonton ( Utah ) UFO films of supposed UFOs in flight. Greene's movie featured Los Angeles j ournalist Tom Towers in the starring role as AI Chop ; other actors por­ trayed Ruppelt, Fournet, and General Garland. Greene in­ cluded interviews with Nicholas Mariana and Delbert C. Newhouse (the two men who had taken the UFO films ) , a portion of the Samford news conference, and dramatic reen­ actments of the Mantell incident and the Washington, D.C., sightnings. 2 8 Such publicity posed a severe threat to Captain Gregory and the Air Force, which mobilized its resources to coun­ teract the film. Gregory kept a file on all the movie's re­ views, notifications, and advertisements, carefully underlining every statement that might cause problems for the Air Force or generate interest in UFOs. From Richard Dyer McCann's review in the Christian Science Monitor, Gregory singled out the statement, "It will almost certainly stir up a storm of pub­ lic controversy," and added the marginal note, "This is some­ thing that neither PIO [Office of Public Information] or ATIC would like to undergo again !" Gregory summed up the Air Force's attitude toward the film by using the phrase from the review : "This film may stir up a storm of public contro­ versy similar to that which USAF was subjected to in 1 9 52 with regard to UFOs as a result of the unwarranted sensa­ tionalism generated by so-called 'UFO experts,' writers, and publishers." In addition to keeping files, ATIC asked Hynek and Air Force officers to review the film before its release, and asked photo experts to compare copies of the Mariana

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Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

1 29

and Newhouse films with the excerpts · shown in the movie. ATIC Chief Scientist A. Francis Arcier met with agency offi­ cials to discuss the preparation of a case file giving the official Air Force explanation for every sighting portrayed in the film. And, finally, ATI C devised a standard response to all in­ quiries about the movie in which it referred the person to Special Report 1 4.29

When the film was released in May 1 9 5 6 , the "storm of controversy" the Air Force so feared turned out to be little more than a light mist. U.F.O. was successful, but it did not cause flying saucer hysteria, criticism of the Air Force, or more UFO reports. Nonetheless, the Air Force still had rea­ son to believe its UFO debunking campaign was inadequate, for the number of sighting reports began to rise again. In the peak sighting year, 1 9 52, ATI C received 1 , 5 0 1 reports. In the following three years, 1 95 3 , 1 9 54, 1 95 5 , it received 509, 4 87, and 545 reports, respectively. Then in 1 9 5 6 it received 670 reports.ao Public interest in the subject increased with the re­ ports, and the discrepancies between the sightings, Air Force pronouncements, Keyhoe's theories, and the p ublic percep­ tions of the problem came to a head in 1 9 5 6 with the forma­ tion of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phe­ nomena (NICAP ) . A group of private citizens interested in UFOs and dissatis­ fied with Air Force policies met in October 1 9 56 to organize the Flying Saucer D iscussion Group. They proposed to inves­ tigate UFOs and the possib ility of space flight. Club member and space propulsion researcher T. Townshend Brown, the club's first director, wanted scientists and other influential cit­ izens to back the club. With the help of Keyhoe, Brown ap­ pointed to the board of governors a retired army brigadier general, two physicists, two ministers, and two businessmen, among others. The most prestigious man on the board was missile p ioneer and former head of the navy's guided missile program, retired Rear Admiral Delmer S . Fahrney. Brown changed the club's name to the more professional sounding National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena and had the organization incorporated on October 24, 1 956. A major problem confronting the new organization was to keep the "crack pots" out and to become "respectable" enough to draw professional people. Keyhoe purposely stayed in the background, not wanting reporters to "jump on it [NICAP] and picture it as a Keyhoe-inspired deal."31 From the beginning Brown ran into trouble. He had esti-


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

mated that $ 8 5 , 000 a year would cover salaries and expenses and set the membership fees at from $ 1 5 . 00 for regular mem­ bers to $ 1 ,000 for founders. Expenses mounted but the ex­ pected funds did not materialize. By the end of 1 956, when only two months old, the fledging organization hovered on the brink of bankruptcy. Tensions between Keyhoe and Brown over B rown's financial policies peaked in January 1 95 7 at a climactic membership meeting. Keyhoe attended and seemed content with watching and listening only. But when Brown decided to place his own n ame in nomination for chairman of the b o ard of governors, a position he wanted in addition to being director, Keyhoe could not contain him­ self. He stood up and accused Brown of mismanaging the funds and steering the organization on too radical a course (he referred to Brown's dubious antigravity propulsion theo­ ries ) . A shouting match ensued and Keyhoe issued an ultima­ tum to the board and to Brown : either Brown resigned from NICAP or Keyboe would personally advise Admiral Fahrney and other board members to resign. Faced with this ultima­ tum, the board capitulated ; the next d ay it forced B rown to resign, elected Admiral F ahrney chairm an, and appointed Keyhoe to replace Brown as the new d irector of NICAP.32 Keyhoe finally h ad an organizational tool for challenging the Air Force on a n ational scale. He bad been formulating plans since 1 9 54, when be told Coral Lorenzen that a "wide public demand" for Air Force declassification or con­ gressional hearings on UFOs was needed to combat the top­ level conspiracy. "If enough intelligent b elievers could get to­ gether and use all possible influence, through their congress­ men, sen ators, and any other means at hand, it might force a quick policy ch ange in Wash ington."aa Keyboe's strategy to solve the UFO problem to his satisfaction and uncover the conspiracy was either to force or to wait for a "big break­ through ," which could take several forms : a flying saucer could l and o n the Wh ite House lawn, thereby putting an im­ mediate end to the UFO controversy; a series of spectacular sightings could occur, which would create enough public pressure to force the Air Force to reveal all its findings ; or rational argument could swing the public to Keyboe's posi­ tion, giving h im the l everage to compel the Air Force to dis­ close its "hidden" findings publicly. The latter method was, of course, the only way Keyhoe could control the b re akthrough. All UFO organizations drew a degree of rid icule, but NI­ CAP tried to keep its share to a minimum. Keyhoe's position


Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

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as director plus the people on the board o f governors gave NICAP dignity, and it attracted many ind ividuals who would usually not have joined a UFO organization. Within a few months after Keyhoe's appointment, the bo ard of governors consisted of Fahrney, Vice-Admiral R. H. Hillenkoetter ( the first director of the CIA ) , Dewey Fournet, J. B. Hartranft (president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association ) , retired Rear Admiral H. B. Knowles, Army Reserve Colonel Robert B. Emerson, retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General P. A. delValle, Dr. Marcus B ach (professor of religion at Iowa State University ) , Dr. Charles A. Maney ( professor of physics at Defiance College in Ohio ) , Reverend Leon LeVan, Reverend Albert B aller, columnist Earl Douglass, and radio­ TV commentator Frank Edwards. These men gave NICAP the prestige and national outlook that no other UFO organi­ zation h ad. Furthermore, NICAP bad a distinguished group of special advisers : AI Chop, Captain C. S. Chiles ( of the 1 948 Chiles and Whitted sighting fame ) , Captain R. B. McLaughlin ( author of the True Magazine article on track­ ing a UFO ) , Warrant Officer Delbert C. Newhouse (who took the famous Tremonton, Utah , motion picture ) , and Wil­ bert B. Smith ( former head of the Canadian government's UFO project) .34 Fahrney inaugurated NICAP's public role with a press conference, which the Associated Press carried nationally. He stated that neither the Soviet Union nor the Unied States could duplicate the UFOs' observed speeds and accelerations and that the flying objects seemed to be intelligently controlled because of "the way they change position in formations and override each other." With over five hundred newspaper arti­ cles about the press conference, the new organization began with a burst of publicity. a li Meanwhile, Keyboe's reorganizing plans advanced rapidly. He cut the membership fee to $7. 50, arranged to publish a monthly bulletin, slashed the organization's overhead, and put it on a bare bones financial policy by, among other things, moving to offices with lower rent and dismissing salaried em­ ployees. Most important, be changed the organization's em­ phasis. Unlike Brown, Keyhoe wanted to use NICAP as a pressure group to force congressional hearings on the Air Force's UFO program; Congress could require the Air Force to release its UFO data to the public and also p rompt a fair and impartial scientific investigation. More conservative than other UFO organizations, NICAP at first avoided any claim


1 3 2.

The UFO Controversy in A merica

that UFOs were extraterrestrial. By assuming that Air Force records and sighting reports would prove the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs, NICAP in effect gave the Air Force this re­ sponsibility. Through this stance, NICAP placed the Air Force in the position of being the expert in the field and re­ linquished some of its ability to act independently of the Air Force. For nearly all of NICAP's existence, it was inextric­ ably connected with Air Force policies and whims. s s Keyhoe's main vehicle for his lobbying efforts was the or­ ganization's publication, the UFO Investigator. The first issue created much public comment because it contained a previ­ ously undisclosed radar-visual sighting that Civil Aeronautics Administration control tower operators had made.s7 Each suc­ ceeding issue presented information designed to counteract Air Force claims of UFO "solutions. " Before long the newsletter and Keyhoe's aggressive reorganization policies led to a considerable membership, numbering approximately 5,000 by 1 9 5 8 . But regardless of the large numbers of people joining and paying $ 7 . 5 0, NICAP existed in a constant state of financial crisis. Keyhoe h ad to finance the newsletter after the first few issues and, in large p art, the entire organization with his personal funds. With careful nurturing, however, NICAP quickly assumed leadership over the scores of smaller UFO organizations spread around the country. NICAP's only potential rival organization was the Aerial , Phenomena Research Organization (APRO ) , which James and Coral Lorenzen had founded in 1 9 52. But the Lorenzens were pleased to see NICAP's formation and did all they could to help the new organization. They did not agree com­ pletely with Keyhoe's conspiracy thesis but, at least in 1 9 57, did not argue with it. APRO was, from its inception, a small organization, content to report UFO sightings and events. It had neither the resources nor the inclination to take on the Air Force or Congress ; it had avoided severe monetary prob­ lems and preferred to remain within its financial limi ts. The Air Force looked upon the establishment of NICAP , with Keyhoe at its head as an om inous development. The in­ fluential people on the board of governors did nothing to ease the Air Force's anxiety. It was distressed especially over Key­ hoe's efforts to obtain congressional hearings , fearing that the publicity from such hearings would touch off another saucer scare. Moreover, hearings would imply that the Air Force was not doing its job properly. In the face of increased criticism from UFO proponents and the newly formed NICAP, the

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Air Force expanded its rationale for keeping UFO data clas­

sified. In 1 957 Major Robert Spence, deputy chief of the op­ erations branch of the Public Information Service, told pri­ vate researcher Max Miller that the Air Force could not give him its photographic files "without making them available to all." This was undesirable because the "man hours and cost would be exorbitant" and, more importantly, it would inter­ fere with the Air Force's normal missions and operations. Similarly, General Joe Kelly assured Keyhoe in 1 957 that the Air Force would not turn over its UFO files to NICAP be­ cause it would then have to do the same for the other organi­ zations. The Air Force classified UFO reports, Kelly said, to "safeguard the National Security" because often a case in­ volved a specific radar or classified weapons system.38 Concurrent with m ajor public relations problems from NI­ CAP, the Air Force went through another reorganization of its UFO project. In July of 1 9 57 the Air Defense Command disbanded the 4602d and reassigned UFO investigating duties to the 1 006th Air Intelligence Service Squadron (AISS ) . The Air Force took this opportunity to divide public relations re­ sponsibilities between the Office of Legislative Liaison for Congress and the Office of Public Information for the public, thereby allowing Air Force intelligence to be "completely di­ vorced" from the public relations aspect of the controversy.a9 The Air Force revised AFR 200-2 in February 1 95 8 to formalize the new procedures. Also, the revised regulations recreated the system of air base commanders conducting ini­ tial investigations of all UFO sightings in their areas and con­ tinued ATIC's formal UFO responsibility for analysis and evaluation. If ATIC believed more extensive study was re­ quired, revised AFR 200-2 stated, it should submit a request to have 1 006th personnel conduct the investigation. At the same time, the Air Force added the order to AFR 200-2 that "Air Force activities must reduce the percentage of uniden­ tifieds to the minimum." The Air Force continued its firmly held belief that reducing the number of unidentifieds would cut down on the number of new sighting reports. It hoped people would begin to understand that a strange something in the sky was not necessarily a spaceship and, therefore, would not report such sightings to the Air Force. In revising the reg­ ulations, the Air Force tried to eliminate " any and all por­ tions of [AFR 200-2] which might provoke suspicion or mis­ interpretation by the public." ( Keyhoe, in The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, had criticized the Air Force for its secrecy poli-


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

l

cies as outlined in AFR 200-2 . ) The new procedures also countered the contactees' publicity efforts; the Air Force gave the FBI names of individuals who were "illegally or deceptively bringing the subject to public attention." These changes, the Air Force hoped, "should d o much toward the relief of [Air Force intelligence] in the UFO program."40 The change to the 1 006th encountered problems immedi­ ately. Within a few months of the transfer, the Air Force reduced the funds for the 1 006th, making curtailment of its investigating functions necessary. The Air Force limited the 1006th's duties to conducting investigations only upon request of the ATIC commander or the director of intelligence in Washington, D.C. The 1 006th remained with the UFO pro­ gram until its reassignment in July 1 959, at which time the Air Force used the 1 1 27th Field Activities Group stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. This group m ade few investigations.41 The Air Force's organizational and regulation changes had no effect on the number of sighting reports coming into ATIC. Despite the campaign to downplay the subject, 1 957 represented another peak year in UFO reports. Whereas ATIC recorded 670 sighting reports in 1 9 56, it received over 1 ,000 in 1 957. The average held steady at from 27 to 39 sightings per month for the first six months of 1 9 5 7 ; then the reports increased in July and August to about 70 a month, decreased slightly to 60 in September, increased to over 1 00 in October, and finally climbed to over 500 for Novem­ ber and December together.42 The country was experiencing another major wave of saucer sightings, approaching the scale of the 1 9 52 "scare." November, the month with the most reports, began with a spectacular group of sightings in Levelland, Texas. These cases were important not only for the public impact but for illustrating the Air Force's investigatory methods. The sight­ ings began at 1 1 : 00 P.M. on the night of November 2 and ended at 2 : 00 A.M. on the morning of November 3. Two witnesses, driving just north of Levelland, saw a glowing, yel­ low and white, torpedo-shaped object flying towEtrd them. As the object flew over the automobile, the car's motor and lights failed. The two witnesses left their car to view the ob­ ject, and it came so close to them that they experienced "quite some heat, " which forced them to "hit the ground." As the object left the area, the d river could start the car again and turn the lights on. The witnesses reported the incident to the police.4S

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One hour later, at midnight, a witness driving four miles east of Levelland came upon a brilliantly glowing, egg-sh aped object resting in the middle of the road. As the witness ap­ proached the object, which he thought was about 200 feet long, the car's engine and lights failed. A few seconds later the object rose to a height of about 200 feet and disappeared. The amazed witness could then start his car and the lights worked properly. Five minutes later another person, driving eleven miles north of Levelland, reported to police that he had come upon a 200-foot-long glowing object sitting in the road; as he approached it, he said, his car engine failed and the lights went out; when the object rose and left the area, the engine and lights functioned normally again.44 At 1 2 : 05 A.M., a nineteen-year-old college freshman was driving nine miles east of Levelland when the engine and lights in his car failed suddenly; as he got out of his car to look under the hood, he saw an egg-shaped object sitting on the ground in front of him. The object, he said, was 75 to 1 00 feet long, glowed white with a greenish tint, and seemed made of aluminum. Frightened, he jumped b ack into his car and watched the object for about five minutes. The n the ob­ ject "disappeared" and the witness could start his c ar. He did not tell anyone about the incident "for fear of public ridi­ cule." (The next day, however, .his parents convinced him to call the police. ) Fifteen minutes after this last incident, another car stalled as it approached an object sitting on a dirt road nine miles north of Levelland. The obj ect was glowing, but when it rose to an elevation of about 300 feet, it disap­ peared from sight. And once again the witness was then able to start the automobile. 45 All of these reports came in to Patrolman A. J. Fowler of Levelland, who was on duty that night. He sent two deputies out to investigate; they reported seeing bright lights in the sky but had no engine problems. Several minutes after the dep­ uties' report, a man driving just west of Levell and saw a huge orange ball of fire coming toward him ; it settled on the high­ way about a quarter of a mile in front of him, covering the paved portion of the ro ad. When the witness approached the object, his car engine and lights failed. As the obj ect rose a few minutes later, the witness was able to start his car again. One-half h our later, a truck driver called Patrolman Fowler to report that, as he was driving northeast of Levelland , his truck engine and headlights failed whe n he came within 200 feet of a 200-foot-long, egg-shaped object on the ground. He


136

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

said it glowed "like a neon sign." As he got out of the truck to investigate, the object shot straight up with a roar and flew away. His truck engine and headlights worked perfectly after the encounter.46 During this time other sheriff's deputies, aware of the UFO reports in the area, searched for objects. Sherifi Clem and Deputy McCulloch, while driving four or five miles outside the city, saw a streak of light with a reddish glow about 300 to 400 yards ahead of them on the highway; it lit up the en­ tire area in front of them. Patrolmen Hargrove and Gavin were only a few miles behind the sheriff' s car on the same road when they saw "a strange looking flash" which "ap­ peared to be close to the ground" about a mile in front of them. Constable Lloyd Ballen reported the last sighting of the evening. He saw an object that, he said, traveled so fast it looked like a flash of light moving from east to west. n In all, twelve people claimed to have seen an object and three more to have seen an unusual flash of light during a three-hour period. All of the witnesses reported a light rain or heavy mist in the area but no storms or ligh tning.4. 8 The national news wire services picked up the sightings, which made headlines around the . country. Public pressure on Blue Book to investigate these incidents was severe. An Air Force spokesman told a New York Times reporter that "a preliminary investigation had been ordered. " When the re­ porter asked the significance of this, the spokesman replied, "We don't investigate all of them, after all." According to Hynek, the Blue B ook investigation consisted of one man from the 1 006th who arrived a few days after the sightings, took two automobile trips to question witnesses, and then told the sheriff that he had completed the investigation. The of­ ficer failed to interview nine of the fifteen witnesses and also erroneously stated that lightning had been in the area at the time of the sightings. 49 Public pressure for an explanation was so intense that the assistant secretary of defense requested ATIC to immediately submit a preliminary analysis to the press. Although Captain Gregory called this request "a most difficult requirement in view of the limited data," officers at ATIC analyzed the in­ formatio n on hand and released a press statement a few days later. The ATIC officers said that contrary to the popular idea that many witnesses were involved in the sighting, only three people "could be located" who had seen the "big light." The object was visible for "only a few seconds, not sustained


Continued Skirmishes and the Rise of NICAP

137

visib ility as had been implied." Furthermore, the officers said, the key to the sightings lay in the presence of lightning and storm conditions in the area. The Air Force's final evaluation gave the cause of the Levelland sightings as "weather phe­ nomenon of electrical nature, generally classified as 'Ball Lightning' or 'St. Elmo's Fire,' caused by stormy conditions in the area, including mist, rain, thunderstorms and light­ ning. " The Air Force attributed the car engine and light fail­ ures to "wet electrical circuits. " Privately Blue Book officers believed the Levelland sightings were "obviously another UFO example of 'mass suggestion.' "50 What concerned the Air Force most about the Levelland sightings was the amount of publicity they generated. Captain Gregory, operating within the accepted Air Force theorem that one sensationally publicized sighting would cause others, reported that the Levelland case bad provoked a flood of other reports and "within three weeks this Division [ATIC] had received approximately 500 UFO reports as a result.'51 To counteract the latest wave of reports, the Office of Pub­ lic Information in the Pentagon released a fact sheet, which stated that "after ten years of investigation and analysis," with the help of a "selected scientific group," the Air Force was unable to discover any evidence for the existence of "Flying Saucers. " Using Hynek's name and credentials, the fact sheet explained that "the selected qualified scientists, en­ gineers, and other personnel involved in these analysis are completely objective and open-minded on the subject of fly­ ing saucers.'' These scientists "apply scientific methods of ex­ amination to all cases in reaching their conclusions.'' More­ over, "no report is considered unsuitable for study and cate­ gorization and no lack of valid evidence of physical matter in the case studies is assumed to be 'prima facie' evidence that so-called 'flying saucers' or interplanetary vehicles do not ex­ ist. '' To reinforce the fact sheet, an Air Force spokesman told the New York Times a few days later that the Air Force gave all reports the " 'most thorough' " analysis involving the services of top-level scientists in many fields to be sure that the findings were fair and impartial and " 'above all, in­ formed.' "52 Donald Menzel, while attending a meeting in Stockholm, once again supported the Air Force's conclusions and added some of his own ideas about the wave of sightings. As many flying saucers existed now, Menzel said, as did in 1 947 and 1948 when the scare first started; this was not surprising be-


138

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

cause they were all due to m irages and other natural phe­ nomena. And Menzel gave another reason for UFO sightings, a reason that the Air Force would use l ater in its official ex­ planations of the 1 957 wave of sightings : "The current rash of flying saucers is tied in with the sensitization of people to the Sputniks. " Doubtless Soviet satellites did create some UFO sighting reports ; the larger wave of UFO sightings in November of 1 9 5 7 coincided with the launching of the sec­ ond Sputnik, but the sightings decreased to 1 3 6 in December and to 6 1 in January of 1 9 5 8 . The 1 95 8 rate, 627 for the year, was a little less than the 1 9 5 6 rate. 53 The Air Force campaign to stop UFO publicity seemed to be working. After the 1 957 wave newspaper publicity about the subject subsided considerably, and articles about UFOs became rare because, as the Air Force reported, "the press is completely satisfied with the periodic UFO 'fact sheets' made available to them and the Air Force responses to specific UFO sightings. "M Public interest seemed to be waning by 1 9 5 8 and the passions that the UFO phenomenon aroused appeared much less intense, although the UFO· groups were still strong. Keyhoe's appearance in February 1 9 5 8 on the A rmstrong Circle Theater's television show, "UFOs : Enigma of the

Skies," added new fuel to the controversy. Departing from the script he h ad hesitantly agreed to use, Keyhoe said on na­ tional television that the Air Force had three secret docu ments of which the public was unaware : the original let­ ter from General Nathan Twining in 1 947 establishing the Air Force's UFO project on the premise that UFOs were "real"; the 1 948 "Estimate of the Situation" that favored the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis ; and the Robertson panel report. But before he could complete even one sentence, the producers turned down the audio so that the home audience heard prac­ tically nothing. The producers expl ained that they had cen­ sored Keyhoe because they feared a libel suit against the net­ work. 55

In this case the Air Force seemed to take Keyhoe's side. It was u nfortunate, it said, th at the producers had cut off the audio , for "they enhanced rather th an d etracted from Major Ke yhoe 's posi tion concerning h is sensational and unsupported claims." Major Tacker, then Pentagon public information of­ cer for UFOs, wrote that people tended to remember sensa­ tiOn al accu satio ns better than "the responsible statements of such qualifi ed scientists who disclaimed such charges on the

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Continued Skirmishes and the R ise of NICAP

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same program." The show prompted many letters t o Keyhoe and to congressmen. But the Air Force received only six let足 ters, and these, the Air Force said, were all from "cranks." This apparent lack of public criticism pleased the Air Force, and an ATIC officer wrote that "reaction from the CBS TV program has been b eyond expectation." The show, he said, actually helped the Air Force because Keyhoe had "alienated himself with the press" by going beyond the script in his ef足 fort to criticize the Air Force. 56 The skirmishes between civilian UFO proponents and the Air Force did not end. In fact, 1 9 54 to 1 9 5 8 was a transi足 tional period, filled with minor deb ates, reorganizations, and policymaking. Of course, no period has a neat beginning and ending, and these minor battles continued into the 1 9 60s. By about mid- 1 9 57, Keyhoe and NICAP were just beginning their full-scale battle with the Air Force. Although publicity about UFOs bad greatly decreased, Keyhoe always bad one great ally to rely on in his war with the Air Force-the UFO sightings. Continued sighting reports in addition to constant pressure from NICAP and other civilian groups created an even greater problem for the Air Force-the threat of con足 gressional hearings on UFOs.


7

THE BA TTLE FOR CONGRESSIONA L HEA RINGS

Congressional hearings presented a serious threat t o the A ir Force. They might imply that the UF O phenomenon was vi­ tally significant and that the government was very interested in it. This might lead to another "flying saucer scare," threatening to the national interest. Hearings might force the Air Force to declassify its IDes, contradicting Air Force claims that its IDes were open already. Hearings might prompt criticism of the Air Force's UFO investigation, criti­ cism that would harm its public relations program. Therefore, preventing or limiting congressional hearings became a major objective for the Air Force from 1957 to 1 964. Handling the hearings problem and congressional inquiries about the UFO program fell to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Legislative Liaison ( SAFLL) . It continually assured congressmen that the Air Force's UFO program was adequate to the task. Relying heavily on Special Report Number 14 for its information, SAFLL told New Jersey Con­ gressman Frelinghuysen that there was . a "total" lack of evi­ dence to suggest that anything unusual was in the skies or that the objects were interplanetary vehicles. Writing to Rep­ resentative Lee Metcalf (of Montana) in early 1957, Major General Joe Kelly of SAFLL defended the way in which the Air Force dealt with UFOs : its interceptors pursued UFOs " as a matter of security to this country and to determine as­ pects involved" and it kept the public informed and released summaries of evaluated UFO reports. "For those objects which are not explainable," Kelly said in support of the clas­ sification policies, "only the fact that the reports are being an­ alyzed is considered releasable due to the many unknowns in­ volved."! Despite these assurances, some congressmen still considered holding public hearings on the subject. Under pressure from 140

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The Battle for Congressional Hearings

141

Keyhoe and NICAP, in January 1 9 5 8 the Senate Subcommit­ tee on Government Operations ( Senator John McClellan, chairman) asked to meet with representatives from SAFLL to discuss the possibility of holding open hearings on the Air Force's UFO program. At the meeting William Weitzen, dep­ uty of the Air Force research and development operations, said the Air Force saw no reason for bearings but would co­ operate if the McClellan subcommittee thought them neces­ sary. The participants discussed the UFO program, the benefi­ cial aspects of the bearings, and the potentially harmful ef­ fects of bearings. Whereas hearings might show that the Air Force was doing its job, the participants said, the "uncon­ trolled publicity" that might result could be dangerous.2 The outcome of the discussion was that Richard Homer (assistant secretary of the Air Force for research and de­ velopment) told subcommittee chief counsel Donald O'Don­ nell that hearings were "not in the best interest of the Air Force." O'Donnell, impressed with the Air Force's UFO pro­ gram after bearing about its work, said he would advise the subcommittee to drop the issue. In an unsigned February memorandum, an Air Force officer said it seemed as if "there is no longer any basis for congressional, press, or public criti­ cism of Air Force UFO activities." Because inquiries about UFOs drastically dropped after the launching of the second Sputnik and with better public understanding of American space efforts, he hoped that "public thinking will be more re­ alistically conditioned, transcending from fantasy to fact." Several weeks later, on February 28, Major General Arno H. Luehman, director of information services, asked the McClel­ lan subcommittee to certify that its "preliminary investiga­ tion" had "proved" the Air Force was conducting its UFO in­ vestigation properly and was not withholding information from the public. The subcommittee refused to cooperate; the members did not want a previous press release to "shackle" them in case the situation changed. a The Air Force prevented congressional hearings, but only for the moment. In June 1 9 5 8 , Ohio Representative John E. Henderson, after reading Ruppelt's book, sent a list of ques­ tions about UFOs to the Air Force. Still very sensitive about congressional opinion, Project Blue Book decided to respond with a special, comprehensive briefing for Henderson and other interested congressmen. According to an Air Force memorandum, congressmen complained that constituents con­ stantly besieged them for information about UFOs and that,


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

because the congressmen knew nothing about the subject, they experienced some "professional embarrassment." Mter the briefing the congressmen expressed confidence in the Air Force's UFO program and s aid they understood the problems in administering it. Rather th an l e aving responsibility to the Air Force, the congressmen agreed that they should advise their constituents on UFO m atters and also that publicity would be "unwise . . . p articularly in an open or closed formal Congressional bearing." The Air Force persuaded con­ gressmen that private organizations and authors g ave "undue impetus to the existence of 'flying saucers' " and stimulated ''unfavorable public hysteria." To bolster its argument, the Air Force d istributed to the congressmen classified p ortions of the Robertson panel report.4 Again the Air Force b ad only temporarily forestalled the threat of bearings. In August, John McCormack's House Sub­ committee on Atmospheric Phenomena ( p art of the House Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration) re­ quested a briefing on UFOs. McCormack wanted a week-long bearing in "closed secret session, u nrecorded, names of witnesses to be held in confidence," and decided to call as of­ ficial witnesses Francis Arcier (the Air Force's chief scientific adviser) , Captain Gregory, Majors Best and Byrne of Air Force intelligence, and Majors Brower and Tacker of the Of­ fice of Public Information. McCormack requested that Men­ zel, Keyboe, and Ruppelt serve as outside witnesses. Air Force intelligence thought that if there must b� hearings, the Air Force might benefit from them.5 McCo rmack opened the session by explaining it was not really a hearing ; the subcommittee, according to an Air Force memorandum, merely sought "add itional information on up­ per space that would be helpful to the appropriate executive_ agency. " Gregory outlined m aj or events in the history of the UFO program, from Proj ect Grudge and its reorganization to Special Report 1 4. He correctly explained that Project ,

Grudge concluded UFO reports were misidentifications of u tural phenomena, war nerves, and the like, but he incor­ rectly stated that press publicity was the only reason for reor­ ganizing Grudge and establishing Project Blue B ook. Without mentioning any UFO sighting reports, Gregory said that the publicity ab out UFOs brought about the 1 95 2 "hysteria." This publicity, according to Gregory, led people to question the Air Force's h andling of the UFO menace. As a result, Gregory recounted, General Samford requested the CIA to


The Battle for Congressional Hearings

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review the Air Force's UFO program ; it did so by forming the Robertson p anel which, he incorrectly reported, had six· teen members (it h ad five ) .o Gregory then outlined the p anel's conclusions and recom· mendations and described the current Air Force UFO pra. gram. Without mentioning Project Blue Book's habit of lumping the probable and possible categories under the title of identified or the Air Force's policy of urging untrained air base officers to identify UFO reports at the base level, Gre· gory said Blue Book's improved investigating methods had reduced the unknowns from 30 percent to 10 percent. With· out explaining that the diffraction camera plan never worked properly, Gregory declared that the plan, while "not wholly successful" because of "lack of operating personnel," pro­ duced no results to indicate the objects were not conven· tiona!. Gregory said Special Report 14 found a "total lack of evidence" for extraterrestrial visitors but did not tell the subcommittee that the report called the evidence ambiguous. He used Hynek as an example of the caliber of scientists who had carefully examined the UFO phenomenon and found nothing unusual about it but did not say Hynek thought UFOs deserved increased systematic study.7 Gregory concluded by noting the rise of private UFO or­ ganizations, books, and club s, and by chastising the organiza­ tions for continually trying to embarrass the Air Force. These self-appointed UFO groups, he said, constantly misinterpret­ ed, exaggerated, or misquoted Air Force publications "all to the detriment of the Air Force." Gregory added that the Air Force "would be more impressed by all this were it not so profitable." Contrary to these private groups' claims, the Air Force neither did nor would suppress any evidence indicating that UFOs were a threat to the security of the United States. This briefing apparently relieved the subcommittee members, who "highly commended" Gregory and the other Air Force officers for their efforts. According to Air Force records, the members were "definitely pleased" with its approach to the problem and "apparently satisfied" with the results. The sub­ committee was so satisfied, in fact, that one of its staff told Air Force representatives that it would call no more witnesses and "take no further interest in this matter."B Once again the Air Force had defused an inquiry into the UFO program. But other congressmen, under continuous constituent pressure for public hearings, requested informa­ tion from the Air Force on previous hearings, briefings, and


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The UFO Controversy i n A merica

the like. In response, SAFLL in 1 959 devised a policy l ine for answering such inquiries. Not mentioning the Henderson, McClellan, or McCormack briefings, SAFLL said the Per· manent Subcommittee on Investigations (part of the Senate Government Operations Committee) periodically requested information, which the Air Force furnished, and after prelim· inary investigation the subcommittee indicated that it did not intend to hold hearings. The Air Force, the policy statement continued, believed hearings ''would merely give dignity to the subject out of all proportion to which it is entitled." Moreover, "the sensation seekers and the publishers of scien­ tific fiction would profit most from such hearings, and in the long run we would not accomplish our objective of taking the aura of mystery out of UFO's." Not wishing to appear in­ trans igent, the policy statement assured the reader that if "overriding considerations" should prompt a congressional committee to hold public hearings, "the Air Force stands ready to give its wholehearted coop eration" to such an en· deavor. SAFLL also included in the p ol icy p aper some state­ ments defending the Air Force's public information p olicies.9 Yet Air Force pronouncements explaining its classification policies often seemed contradictory. Richard Homer, assistant secretary of the Air Force for research and development, told Barry Goldwater in a January 1 9 5 8 letter that allegations about the Air Force withholding information about UFOs were "entirely in error." But Homer also explained that many people who reported UFOs did not want details of the sight­ ings made public and the Air Force respected their wishes. Writing to Senator Harry F. Byrd in January 1 959, Major General W. P. Fisher ( who replaced Joe Kelly as director of SAFLL) said the charge that the Air Force was withholding information "has no merit whatsoever." But, Fisher went on to explain, sometimes the Air Force did withhold information from the public to protect witnesses from "the idle curiosity of the sensation seekers" or to keep from "compromising our investigative processes. "1 0 Congressional inquiries, threats of public hearings, and public pressure p rompted two Air Force actions in late 1958 : it issued another fact sheet in October and it und e rtook a staff study in December to evaluate its UFO program. The October fact sheet said "refinements" in Air Force investiga­ tory processes had led to a decline in the number of unknown UFO reports. These refinements essentially meant inte grating the probable and possible categories with the identified cate·


Tire Bat:le

for

Congressio r!al Hearings

1�5

gory. so that when the Air Force released its offici:.ll statistics LrO reports. it could claim that the unkno\0-ns, which were 9 percent in 1 9 5 3 and 1 9 54 and at 3 percent in 1 9 5 5,

on

only 1 . 8 percent in the first si.,;: mon�s o f 1 9 5 8 . The fact sheet explained that Air Defense Commanc person:1el conducted the investigations and then sect the data to ATIC for analvses and evaluation "t-v scientific me3.l:1S"' : the l'FO project often used the seni ce s of Dr. Hynek and other scien­ tists to investigate indhidual cases or to c o nduct ..detailed studies,. of lJFO"s in gene raJ . ll \O""ere

As

m

exam p le of the

�scientific"

aspect of Air Force p ro­

cedures, the fact sheet mentioned, for the fi.-s t time pub l icly, tbe 1 95 3 Robertson panel. It e xp lain e d that the Air Force

convened the p ane l to co nd u ct an '·over-all examination of investigative procedures and findings on spe cific reports. ,_ and summ arized the panel's conclusions and recommendations­

without mentioning the educational program pl::!. ns. Fin:illy, the fact sheet explained that the Air Force class ified repcrts "only in a few instan ce s " to protect '"elements in our Air De­ fense S)"Stem " and did not comply with indi•idual reques'"..s

for information because '·individuais who have assis ted Air Force investigators·• ( the witnesses 1 might b e embarrassed . 12

Although the fact sheet's purpose was te> relieve p ress and public pressure on the Air Force , it had limited effect on p ri­ vate urO groups. and in t e llige nc e officers re m ained dissatis­ fied with the Air Force's abilitY to counter the inroads these groups had made in its credib iii ty. Therefc re. intelligence of­ ficers ordered a staff study to enmine the public relations p roblems and to ree valuate its "CFO p rogram. The staff re­ ported that civilian UFO groups frequently inYestigated a sighting from a b iased \iewpoint and then publicized it. pointing to inadequacies in the Air F crc e · s h:mdling of the case. B ecause the Air Fo rce only investigated officiilly report­ ed sightings. these groups could study and publicize sensa­ tional s ightings never re po rt ed to the Air Force. These or­ ganizations knew the Air Force's d eficiencies and used them to p ut it -"in a d e fe ns iYe pos ition.·· :M oreove r. the staff stated incorrectly, •·c�ptain Ruppelt . . . is no w affJi:J.ted lOith :t'ol:­ CAP," which meant that Ruppelt and "political adventurist" Keyhoe '"represent a formid ab le team from which p l e nty of trouble can b e expected"' ; both we re in the ..business·• for the money. Comparable situ::ttions existed in forty-nine other or­ ganizations, the staff explained. which . . for various reasons" felt the need to do e;-erything they could to discredit the Air


The UFO Controversy in A merica

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Force. Often these groups reached witnesses before the Air Force did and primed them on what to say ; the club mem­ bers even remained in the room when the Air Force investi­ gator asked his questions.13 The Air Force, the staff concluded, needed to increase its credibility. One problem was that the Air Force did not in­ vestigate all sightings and sometimes took a long time on those it did investigate. The time delay was crucial because it allowed UFO groups to complete their investigation quickly and put the Air Force on the spot. To complicate matters, the staff said, many Air Force investigators did not have the experience to handle complex situations ; all they could do was ask questions as outlined in AFR 200-2. The staff recom­ mended, first, that the Air Force assign eighteen to twenty . men to temporary investigating duties and arm them with a UFO kit containing a standard operating procedure manual and other tools necessary for an adequate investigation; the ' men should be available at a moment's notice. Second, the Air Force should automatically investigate sightings reported ' to press p eople but not to it. Third, two members of the ATIC UFO group should be on alert each week for critical investigating duty. Implementing these recpmmendations, the staff felt, would help alleviate the problem of civilian UFO group criticism and also decrease the percentage of reports in the unknown and insufficient data categories ( as of Novem­ ber 1958,

20 percent of all official reports were in these two

categories ) ,14

The ATIC commander tentatively approved the plan. But later Air Force headquarters dropped it, apparently deciding not to spend more money on a phenomenon that was no threat to the national security and that seemingly had no scientific value.lli

In October 1958, one month before the staff undertook the above study, Major Robert J. Friend assumed Captain Gregory's duties as head of Project Blue Book. Friend was, according to Hynek, the only Blue B ook chief who earned his respect. Having studied physics in graduate school, he had more extensive scientific training than other Blue Book chiefs, and he was a "total and practical realist" who under­

stood Blue Book's limitations. No sycophant or bureaucrat, Friend was the

fairest chief of Proj ect Blue Book since

Ruppelt. Although not an advocate of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, and to a certain extent a willing participant in


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the Great Keyhoe War, he nevertheless brought a new per· spective to the project.16 When Friend took over the reins from Gregory, he imme· diately began to systematize the chaotic situation in Blue Book's office. He ordered an electric filer for reports, which Blue Book staff in the past had filed haphazardly or not at all. In his tenure he trie d to institute a microfilming project to save the reports for posterity because he feared many had been pilfered. The Air Force decided the project was too ex· pensive and never carried it out. Friend began cataloging the sightings according to color, size, geographic location, and the like, but the job was so enormous that the lack of additional help forced him to abandon the work. Friend also realized , Hynek's value and supplied him daily with current UFO re· ports. More importantly, under Friend's direction and for the first time since the implementation of the Robertson panel recommendations in 1 9 5 3 , Blue Book began to reassess its role in studying the UFO phenomenon.H The first indication of a new outlook for Blue Book came in February 1 959 when Hynek called a meeting of key ATIC and Blue Book personnel to review public relations policies on UFOs, and also ostensibly because he was smarting from personal attacks. From 1 957 to 1 9 60 Hynek was codirector ' of the Smithsonian Institution's satellite tracking program and : played a limited role in analyzing UFO reports. Hynek made clear at the beginning of the meeting that the Air Force "had done a good job of handling a very difficult program with the limited resources available" but that the Air Force could im· prove these resources and other facets of the program. Trying to smooth out some of the public relations and scientific problems, the participants suggested five changes.lB The first suggestion was to change the ambiguous appella· tion unidentified flying objects, although this was not the proper time to do so because such a change would supply "the UFO fanatics with ammunition for a new attack." But the participants did recommend changing the name of the statistical category unknown to unidentified; this they thought, was less suggestive of mystery. Second, the partici· pants thought the Air Force should take advantage of favor­ able publicity : "Pictures and descriptions of the phenomena or objects determined as being probably responsible for a sighting should accompany a news release."19 Saying that the overall Air Force approach was not scien­ tific enough, the participants' third recommendation was that


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

the Air Force call in a p anel of scientists once a month to discuss the UFO problem. Fourth, the participants thought Project Blue Book should review old, sensational, unknown cases-those that private UFO organizations were reopening "to the further embarrassment of the Air Force"-so that, given the "greater scientific knowledge" of the day, they "may be removed from the 'unknown' category and reclassi­ fied as a 'prob able.' " Concerned about private UFO organi­ zation claims that people "held in high esteem by the public" sympathized with the organizations' views, the participants' fifth suggestion was for the Air Force Information Service to ask these individuals "for corroboration or denial and for fur­ ther detail if in the affirmative. " To relieve public pressure on Hynek, the participants decided to discontinue using his name in official press releases (which had begun to anger Hynek ) and to have the Air Force Information Service answer in­ quiries addressed to him.2o Of the five suggestions, the Air Force implemented two : it changed the name of the unknown category to unidentified and, although it did not create an official scientific panel, it allowed Hynek to meet informally with some ATIC person­ nel each month. The purpose of the meetings was to review "troublesome cases," d iscern trends, and make suggestions for the future. The unofficial scientific advisory group, which Blue Book recruited, basically consisted of six men in addi­ tion to Hynek. They were astronomer L. V. Robinson, public relations specialist Theodore J. Hieatt, chaplain Captain R. Pritz, physicist V. J. Handmacher, psychologist Leroy D. Pigg, and Friend. The group met for the first time on May S, 1959, and continued to convene about once a month until the end of 1 9 60.21 The group recommended that the Air Force stop evalu­ ating UFO reports on the basis of their potential hostility and, instead, step up its scientific evaluation of the phenome­ non using the mass of available data rather than individual cases. The advisory group supplied a military reason for con­ tinued Air Force study of sighting reports : if Air Force per­ sonnel did not learn to discriminate between UFOs and space-probe equipment, in the future they might mistake UFOs for sophisticated enemy missiles. Air Force officials chose to ignore these recommendations, and by the end of 1 9 60, the group, as Hynek said, "just petered out." Its effect was nil.22 The unofficial group of advisers had no impact primarily

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because ATIC, while the group met in 1 9 59, conducted its own reassessment of the UFO project and arrived at different conclusions. Friend's outlook, continued private UFO group ctiticism, and increased expense for public relations all made the Blue Book staff think about getting rid of the UFO prob­ lem entirely. Friend realized that the Air Force's interest in UFOs only extended to determining whether they were threats to the national security or had intelligence value. He also realized that if the UFOs did not fall into one of these two categories, they were then a scientific problem and, as such, did not come within the purview of what the Air Force called the intelligence community. Because of Friend's atti­ tude, ATIC ordered a second staff study to determine how to economize on the UFO program and how to devise a differ­ ent policy toward it. This staff study became the most impor­ tant of the UFO program to date. The staff reported that the ATIC UFO program consisted of four essential tasks : investigating sightings for possible in­ telligence and/ or scientific value ; eliminating the "defensive attitude" of the program's public relations philosophy, such as "trying to prove that each object sighted is not a space ship"; informing the public that the UFO program, which evaluated each sighting, "is not essential to natioual security" ; and using a public education program to "strip the shrouds of mystery'' from the project because "many innocent people are duped by those who are using the UFO for personal gain."23 After twelve years of investigating and analyzing UFO re­ ports-over 6,000 in total-ATIC had no evidence to suggest that UFOs were either space vehicles, a threat to national se­ curity, or of scientific value, the staff explained. The UFO program was a costly and "unproductive burden" on the Air Force, resulting only in "unfavorable publicity." The pro­ gram, which strayed from its original intent, was 80 percent public relations efforts, primarily because members of more than fifty private UFO organizations "exploit unidentified fly­ ing objects for financial gain, religious or other more devious reasons at the expense of the Air Force." When dissatisfied with the Air Force's investigation, the staff said, these people convinced witnesses to complain to their congressmen, causing congressional hearings, unfavorable publicity, and more work for ATIC. Project Blue Book's staff, which in­ cluded three full-time personnel, many part-time people, and the field investigators, "who must meet this problem on a


1 50

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

day-to-day b asis," could be more constructive on other pro­ grams.24 Given this situation, the staff considered four p ossible solu­ tions. The "immediate elimination of the program" could cer­ tainly solve all problems but would destroy every advantage the Air Force h ad gained in the last twelve years, especially in public relations, and would undermine the average citizen's belief in the Air Force and give "UFOites" and "propa­ gandists" more weapons. Complete disb andment was the eventual goal, the staff said, but "the public must first be con­ ditioned in order that they be receptive of the idea." Thus, the Air Force should still receive and "give proper attention" to reports that might prove hostile or have scientific and intel­ ligence value.25

A second s olution was first to remove the program from the intelligence community, ''where it is extremely dangerous to prestige, " and then disband it completely. The Air Force could transfer the p rogram to a m ore suitable branch of the service, such as the Office of Information Services ; this would eliminate an intelligence program that was "open to public inspection" and l e nt itself to exaggerated importance. Then the Air Force would have to embark on a long-range educa­ tional program-using the press, radio, television, and motion pictures-to assure the public that it continued to monitor ev­ erything in the sky. One disadvantage was the likely "loss of prestige" in taking the program from intelligence and placing it in a public relations division. Another disadvantage would be the expense of a public education program, which would require new coordinative and liaison systems. But, the staff said, "The expense incurred in the public education program will more than p ay for itself if this eventually reads to deac­ tivation of the progr am. "2 6

A third solution was to reassign the program from intelli­ gence to an Air F orce division with scientific and technical capability, such as the Air Research and Development Com­ mand (ARDC ) . This reassignment would provide the pro­ gram with a fresh approach and greater scientific stature and would not result in loss of prestige. Such a transfer had a disadvantage in that the Air Force would have to establish new directives and l ines of communication and train new per­ sonnel. The fourth and l ast alternative was to do noth ing, to maintain the program in its special proj ect status at ATIC. Yet the public tended to exaggerate the importance of a pro­ gram connected with intelligence and such a wide-open pro-


The Battle for Congressional Hearings

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gram "has a tendency t o reduce the prestige" o f the entire in­ telligence community. The staff concluded that the best move was to transfer the UFO program to an Air Force division with scientific capability, which could implement an active public relations campaign with the goal of "the eventual elim­ ination of the program as a special project." None of these possible solutions meant that the Air Force would stop receiv­ ing sighting reports, for it had to monitor all aerial objects. The Air Force wanted to eliminate the UFO program, not eliminate its watch over objects in the sky. 2 7 After reaching the decision, ATIC attempted to interest the Air Research and Development Command in the program. Colonel Richard R. Shoop of ATIC explained to ARDC's commander, Lt. General Bernard Schriever, that the UFO program h ad potential scientific value in the areas of meteors, fireballs, space vehicles " ( general ) ," missiles, radar, static electricity, meteorology, and upper-air physics. The UFO pro­ gram's value to the Air Force, Shoop believed, lay not in in­ telligence but in exploring these areas for scientific purposes. ARDC was not convinced. Major General James Ferguson, ARDC vice commander, replied that more than half of the UFO program related to "nonscientific phenomena" and that the other portion, "while possibly associated with scientific processes, does not include qualitative data and is therefore of limited scientific value." Aerial phenomena observations, Fer­ guson said, would not "enhance" ARDC's research programs and, therefore, the proposed transfer was not "in the best in­ terest of the Air Force." A letter from Hynek to ARDC strongly recommending the transfer failed to move Fergu­ son.2S ATIC next tried to transfer the UFO program to an Air Force public relations agency, such as the Secretary of the Air Force's Office of Information (SAFOI ) . In March 1960, ATIC deputy for science and components, Colonel Philip G. Evans, wrote to the ATIC commander, Major General Dougher, suggesting this transfer; A. Francis Arcier, ATIC chief scientist, concurred; be added that the prestige the UFO program might lose from a transfer to SAFOI was actually an advantage, because less prestige meant less importance. He recommended that Hynek remain the scientific adviser if ATIC transferred the program. ATIC made strenuous efforts to sell SAFOI on the idea of accepting the program, but SAFOI, like ARDC, wanted no part of it, for it also thought it would be inheriting a major public relations headacbe.29


1 52

The UFO Controversy in A merica

While ATIC tried to transfer the program, two more books on UFOs came out and added yet more fuel to the Air Force-civilian UFO group fires. In Flying Saucers: Top Secret, Keyhoe outlined his activities from 1 9 56 to 1 9 6 0 : the formation of NICAP, the A rmstrong Circle Theater episode, and attempts to obt ain hearings . Now more than ever, he said, h e believed the Air Force was covering up to avoid panic, not only among the general populace but among its own pilots as well. According to Keyhoe, Air Force pilots beard rumors that UFOs had caused mysterious plane disap­ pearances; if the Air Force admitted that UFOs existed, Key­ hoe reasoned, the p ilots would panic. so Keyhoe, from his own perspective, was unable to arrive at a logical explanation for why the Air Force classified its IDes, denied the existence of extraterrestrial vehicles, and opposed congressional hearings. On the one hand, Air Force public policy statements ab out UFOs seemed to him contradictory, confusing, and sometimes erroneous. On the other hand, Key­ hoe thought there was overwhelming evidence for the exis­ tence of extraterrestrial vehicles. Given this situation, Keyhoe reasoned that the only explanation to reconcile the two sides was h is conspiracy-to-avoid-panic theory, with minor varia­ tions. Keyhoe tried to deal with an illogical situation in a log­ ical manner.

In 1 953 th e Rob ertson p anel gave the Air Force a re ason for secrecy : UFO reports, by clogging intelligence channels, presented a threat to national security; therefore, the Air Force had to decrease the number of reports by downplaying the entire subject. But by 1 9 6.0, the personnel change at Blue Book and , to some extent, at ATIC, the lessening of cold-war fears, the Air Force's confirmed belief th at extraterrestrial ve­ hicles did not exist, and the simple passage of time all ob­ scured the original reasons for secrecy. In their place was the overriding public relations problem, questions about whether the Air Force was "doing its job," was lying to the people, or was competent to examine aerial phenomena. Although the Air Force's goal was to eliminate the UFO program as a special project, it did not think it could take the apparent logical course of action-to open its files, announce the project unworthy of further involvement, and disb and it. Instead, the public relations problem had assumed a life of its own. The Air Force, highly sensitive to b ad publicity, looked at the conflict with civilian UFO groups as it would a war. Each attack was a battle; to declassify its IDes, stop its de-

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bunking campaign, or close down operations in the face of attacks was tantamount to surrender. The UFO enigma had only secondary importance, if that ; the 1952 "hysteria" and the Robertson panel recommendations definitely had receded into the background. With the origin al reason for secrecy for­ gotten or neglected, secrecy to prevent b ad press took p ro mi nence. It is doubtful that b y 1 960 anyone in the Air Force could remember the original reasons for the p ol ici e s, and cer­ tainly not Keyhoe. Consequently, it was easy for him to con­ clude that the Air Force's action confirmed his theories. Keyhoe would have had even more reason to believe high echelons of government conspired to keep information from the public had he known of the bizarre case the CIA had b e­ come involved in. The CIA had stayed away from the UFO controversy since it sponsored the 1 953 Robertson p anel But in 1 959 the Office of Naval Intelligence heard of a woman in Maine who claimed to be in contact with sp ace people and brought it to the CIA's attention. Normally the government wo uld have ignored this contactee-like case in which the woman, used the common psychic device of automatic writ­ ing. But the Canadian governp1ent had also heard of this woman, and is sent Wilbert Smith, its UFO expert, to inter­ view her. In her trance the woman p urp ortedly correctly an­ swered technical questions about s p ace flight b eyond her knowledge. After learning of this, the Navy sent two officers to investigate. The woman persuaded one of the officers to go into a trance himself and try to contact the space peopl e He tried but failed. When the two officers returned to Washington, they told CIA officials about their experience. The CIA arranged to have the officer who unsuccessfully tried to make contact try again at CIA headquarters. Six witnesses g ath ere d in the CIA office to watch. The officer went into another trance and ap­ p aren tly made contact with space people. The other men in the room wanted proof. The officer in a trance said that if they looked out the window, they would see a flying saucer. Three men rushed to the window and were astonished to see a UFO. Two of these men were CIA employees and the third was with the Office of Naval Intelligence. At the exact same time, the radar center at Washington National Airport report­ ed that its r¥far returns had been blocked out in the direction of the sighting The CIA briefed Major Friend on these de­ velopments, and Friend sat in on a later trance session. He asked to be kept informed if a nyth ing else happened, but ap­

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::

: u::. ;:: : :; ��� c

m

e Univenity'• , o endy no. parapsychology l aboratories should investigate the officer and the woman. But Project Blue Book never analyzed the sight­ ing and what the men actually did see remains a mystery. The CIA did not treat the incident seriously yet took punitive actions against the men involved. It m ade sure they were transferred to other positions. As far as is known, the govern­ ment never followed up on the sighting or the radar black­ out.31 Although no one knew about this sighting, of course, the Air Force public relations policies in 1 960 seemed to add support to Keyhoe's conspiracy theories, especially when Ma­ jor Lawrence Tacker's Flying Saucers and the U.S. A ir Force appeared. Tacker was an Air Force public information officer and the UFO project monitor for the press. He was angry that the Air Force "was being set upon by M ajor Keyhoe, NICAP and other UFO hobby groups who believe in space ships as an act of pure faith." He particularly objected to the "countless harangue[s] that the Air Force is withholding in­ formation." His book was supposed to set the record straight and end the deb ate.a2 The short book was basically a compilation of press re­ leases, fact sheets, and official pronouncements and, as such, was a good review of Air Force thought on UFOs in 1 960. Tacker began with a short history of the UFO phenomenon, a history that illuminated the lack of basic knowledge within the Air Force of the phenomenon and the Air Force's in­ volvement with it. Tacker maintained that one d ay in 1 896 an airship sailed from Oakland to Chicago where it disap­ peared. Astronomers identified it as Alpha Orion, "but public opinion was that the object was an airship." Jumping to the 1 947 and 1 952 sightings, he claimed that lack of data was the only reason the Air Force did not draw "definite conclu­ sions" and take the "aura of mystery" out of these sightings. Air Force had taken the problem of the UFOs seriously in 1 952 and had "put a lot of effort into developing adequate and proper reporting, investigating, analysis, and evaluation procedures. " This policy, he said, was still in effect, and "selected qualified scientists, engineers and other technical personnel" at ATIC kept Project Blue Book up to date so that the American public remained informed about UFOs.33 Tacker responded to four of the most common attacks on the Air Force, essentially the same four that Keyhoe made on the A rmstrong Circle Theater telecast in 1958. first was

The

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that the Air Force had a document dated September 23, 1 947, which proved that flying saucers existed. This referred to the Twining letter, which stated that the objects were "real" and authorized an Air Force investigation of UFOs, although Tacker did not identify it as such. His response to this charge was technically correct but deceptive : ''There is no official Air Force report or document which states that flying saucers are real." The Twining letter did not contain the term flying saucers. The second charge concerned the 1 948 Estimate of the Situation document claiming that UFOs were interplanetary. Ruppelt, Fournet, and Hynek had veri­ fied its existence, but Tacker replied that ATIC never had an "official" document of this nature.M In response to the third accusation-that a secret Air Force intelligence report on UFO maneuvers concluded that the objects were interplanetary ( Dewey Fournet's late 1 952 study) -Tacker stated bluntly that such a report was "non­ existent." Finally, Tacker dealt with the charge that a secret panel of scientists in 1953 urged the Air Force to expand Project Blue Book and publicly release all UFO information (the Robertson panel recommendations as Ruppelt explained them ) . Tacker acknowledged the panel and accurately sum­ marized its recommendations, but he omitted one : that na­ tional security agencies should institute a public education program immediately to strip the aura of mystery from UF0s.35 He failed to give the reasons why the panel con­ vened. Tacker explained in the book that a team of selected scien­ tists met each month (the unofficial UFO panel ) to make sure the Air Force conducted a "thorough information pro­ gram to keep the public informed." In spite of all Air Force efforts, Tacker said. "a small but articulate segment of people" mistakenly believed that the Air Force had not inves­ tigated the UFO problem scientifically and that it withheld information from the public. These people, according to Tacker, spoke out because the subject was so "novel and fas­ cinating" that it supported over a hundred organizations, all of which expected the Air Force to release its data to provide "grist" for their publications. These organizations made "senseless and vicious" attacks on the Air Force, which "would be remiss in its duty to the American people if by its assistance it encouraged these clubs in their sensational claims and intentions." Tacker concluded by saying that the Air Force had a tremendous job in defending the country from .

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

enemies ; if the Air Force diverted more money and personnel to investigate UFOs, it would seriously jeopardize the coun­ try's security, allow "sensation seekers" to "dictate our de­ fense policies," and lay itself "open to the charge of gross impudence. "8 6 That same year Tacker continued his defense of the Air Force with appearances on radio and television shows around the country. On the radio show "Washington Viewpoint" he ' outlined the "vast scientific resources" the Air Force used to analyze UFO sightings, resources such as the Air Research and Development Command, the Air Materiel Command, and scientific consultants from many different colleges and , universities. Furthermore, Tacker said, the Air Force had "in­ stantaneous communications world-wide," which enabled it to hear about a sighting anywhere in the world "in a matter of ' niinutes." He compared this to a "small group of euphologists [sic] who have a typewriter and read a newspaper account of the thing, and-you see you really can't compare."B7 Tacker's personal campaign had little effect. The civilian UFO groups continued their attacks, congressmen remained interested, and as a result the Air Force had to resist new threats of congressional hearings. In early July 1960, mem­ bers of the Senate Committee on Preparedness, the House Armed Forces Committee, the House Science and Astronau­ tics Committe, and the CIA requested Air Force briefings on the UFO program. The public increased pressure on con­ gressmen, who were concerned particularly over charges that the Air Force gave a preliminary briefing to Stuart French of the Senate Preparedness Committee on July 1 3 . French wanted to know about Air Force solutions to puzzling cases and requested resumes of several well-known sightings, in­ cluding those in Washington, D.C., and in Levelland, Texas. He also felt that Project Blue Book should be capable of in­ vestigating cases that might have scientific significance. s s The French briefing was a warm-up for the major briefing on July 1 5, 1 9 60. Present were Richard Smart from the House Armed Forces Committee, Spencer Bereford, Richard Hines, and Frank Hammit from the House Science and As­ tronautics Committee, and two men from the CIA ( Richard Payne, technical adviser, and John Warner, assistant for legis- ' lative liaison to Allen Dulles) . Air Force representatives in­ cluded John McLaughlin ( administrative assistant to the secretary of the Air Force ) , Major General Luehman (direc­ tor of intelligence ) , Brigadier General E. B. LeBailley and

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The Battle for Congressional Hearings

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Tacker (Office of Information) , Brigadier General Kingsley and Colonel James C. McKee ( Office of Legislative Liaison) , Lt. Colonel Sullivan ( intelligence ) , Major Boland (legislative liaison) , Major Friend, and Hynek. The congressmen were not as cooperative as others had been in the past. Bereford of the Science and Astronautics Committee said it had discussed UFOs and they appeared to have "scientic potential." Congressman Smart (of the House Armed Forces Committee ) believed the Air Force withheld information from the public as well as from congressional committees. Although the Air Force assured him this was not the case, Smart remained skeptical. He was particularly un­ happy that the Air Force investigated routine cases but was "limited" when a case required extensive scientific analysis. He indicated that his committee would be satisfied if it could say the Air Force had the "numbers and the capability'' to in­ vestigate all cases that appeared to have intelligence, scien­ tific, or public relations value. Also, he wanted the Air Force to keep his committee advised of all pertinent sightings and warned that future remarks to his constituents would be based on these conditions. Hynek had told Smart about ATIC's inadequate capability to investigate UFO cases with scientific potential, displaying his growing dissatisfaction with the Air Force; of course Hynek agreed with all of Smart's recommendations. S9 For the Air Force, though, Hynek's growing restiveness was unimportant, and the significant aspect of the briefing was that once again the Air Force had successfully prevented open hearings. As General Luehman said to the assistant chief of staff for intelligence, "All personnel attending the briefing were pleased with the results and the general consen­ sus is that no public hearings will be held in the near future."40 Nevertheless, congressmen for the first time had expressed dissatisfaction with the UFO program and had suggested steps to remedy the situation. Hoping to put a quick end to congressional dissatisfaction, the Air Force immediately be­ gan to deal with Smart's recommendations. ATIC decided that to investigate cases with intelligence, scientific, and pub­ lic relations potential, it would assign another man to Project Blue Book, which had a staff of only one commissioned and one noncommissioned officer. ATIC estimated it had to inves­ tigate from twelve to fifteen cases per year, at a probable cost of $200 per case, and needed an additional $3,000 to carry


1 58

The UFO Controversy in A merica

out the program ; it also needed money to buy a Polaroid camera and a Geiger counter for the investigators and $ 1 ,000 per year to raise Hynek's salary (he was receiving $3,000 per year as a consultant ) . ATIC officially requested the funds from the assistant chief of staff for intelligence (AFCIN ) .U While waiting for the extra money to come through. the Of­ fice of the Secretary of the Air Force authorized travel money in connection with the recommendations. But in Sep­ tember AFCIN informed ATIC th at it would not all ocate ad­ ditional personnel or funds for Project Blue Book. ATIC would be able to institute Smart's recommendations in one way only : Blue Book could have "close telephone moni­ torship" with air b ase officers investigating a UFO sighting of "extreme importance."4.2 The Air Force did not relay this information to Smart, who inquired in November about the progress it had made toward implementing his recommendations. The Office of Legislative Liaison explained that the changes "had yet to be accomplished." In ear ly 1 9 6 1 Major Friend decided on a new course of action. Blue Book requested an increased budget for the fiscal year which allowed it to implement at least a compromise measure to satisfy Smart. Rather than use one officer full time, it decided to place four officers on an on-call basis ; because UFO sigbtings were "cyclical and erratic," the four officers could handle the reports more expeditiously. This reponse seemed to satisfy Smart. Blue Book did use these officers from time to time during Friend's stay as bead of the project but not afterward." Publicly the Air Force remained silent about its con­ gressional briefings and investigatory problems. It continued to castigate its critics and assure the public that top-level scientists with command of all necessary facilities were con­ ducting a rigorous scientific investigation of UFOs. The Air Force withh eld nothing from the American public, it said, ex­ cept in certain cases when the data required security classifi­ cation. The July 1 9 60 fact sheet criticized the many "self-ap­ pointed authorities on UFOs" who considered themselves "unofficial advisors to the United States Air Force Intelli­ gence community." Because they did not have this authority under the law, the Air Force thought "it would be entirely inappropriate and even dangerous at times to exercise the In­ telligence system in order to give them, or their organization, any notoriety or publicity. " ATIC officials privately placed the blame for the July congressional briefings on Keyboe, NI-

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The Battle for Congressional Hearings

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CAP, and other civilian UFO organizations. Colonel Evans reflected this when he said that the 500,000-p lus members claimed by the civilian groups belonged for "financial gain, religious reasons, pure emotional outlet, ignorance, or pos­ sibly to use the organization as a 'cold war' tool." NICAP and Keyhoe were of course the principal villains.« Still , many congressmen continued to inquire about the UFO program. The Air Force replied, as it had done in pre­ vious years, with statements from the semiannual fact sheets. Once in a while it changed its official line. For example, writ­ ing to Senator Oren E. Long in April of 1 960, Colonel Carl M. Nelson (legislative liaison) said the Air Force protected the identity of UFO witnesses "in order to encourage the public to report UFO's." Brigadier General Joseph Kingsley, deputy director of legislative liaison, wrote to John Carstar­ phen of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics in May 1 9 60 and said that as Mr. Carstarphen could tell from the recent U-2 incident (the abortive mission over the USSR ) , the Air Force had a diffi cult job in defending against "known enemies" and their weapons systems and had com­ mitted all its resources to this end ; one of the greatest prob­ lems in the UFO area was not to waste resources on false alarms or UFOs th at did not constitute a threat to the coun­ try's security. Kingsley also told Carstarphen that the Air Force's refusal to lend its resources to private UFO groups was based on the 1953 Robertson panel, which found that UFOs constituted a threat to the "orderly function of the protective units of the body politic because an unwarranted mass of irrelevant information could clog vital channels of communication and continued false reports could hide indica­ tions of a genuine hostile attack." Similarly, Colonel Gordon B. Knight told Estes Kefauver in April 1 9 60 that the Air Force d id not honor individual requests for UFO information because it did not have the resources to do so and because most of the replies to the requests ended up in the files of pri­ vate UFO organizations.•5 These Air Force explanations did not convince everyone. House Speaker John McCormack, whom the Air Force briefed in 1 9 5 8 , doubted it had disclosed all it knew at that time. In fact, McCormack believed in 1 960 that UFOs were "real" and not familiar objects or delusions. The reputation of many UFO witnesses impressed him and, with Keyhoe's urging, he began to think about holding another congressional investigation. In 1 9 6 1 he directed Congressman Overton


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

Brooks of the House Science and Astronautics Committee to look into the UFO problem. Brooks was sympathetic, and he appointed Minnesota Congressman Joseph Karth head of a three-man Subcommittee on Space Problems and Life Scien­ ces and directed Karth to hold hearings on UF0s.48 Keyhoe had written letters to both Brooks and McCormack requesting these congressional hearings and proposing a plan in which both NICAP and the Air Force would present their evidence on the existence of extraterrestrial vehicles at an ex­ ecutive session of the subcommittee. There Keyhoe said, NICAP would present proof of Air Force incompetency in de aling with UFO reports and proof of Air Force secrecy in making "contradictory, misleading and untrue statements" to congressmen and private citizens. Keyhoe wanted the Air Force representatives to answer all NICAP questions about specific cases and methods. In turn. said Keyhoe, NICAP would answer all Air Force questions. If, after hearing evi­ dence on both sides, the executive session disproved NICAP's contentions, then Keyhoe would resign as director of NICAP, cease all publications, and dissolve the organization. If, on the other hand, the executive session decided that the Air Force was withholding information, then it should ask the Air Force to end its secrecy policies and NICAP would re­ quest that the government establish a new agency to "insure the speedy release of all UFO information, with the immedi­ ate purpose of reducing the grave secrecy-dangers [sic] ." If the Air Force refused to participate in this plan, NICAP would urge public hearings. The fuii NICAP board of gover­ nors signed the proposal. 47 In mid- 1 9 6 1 the Air Force heard about the proposed hear­ ings for early 1 9 62. To meet this new crisis the Office of Leg­ islative Liaison began to direct its efforts toward heading off the hearings. But it could not prevent House Science and As­ tronautics Committee staff member Richard P. Hines from visiting ATIC to gather information for the hearings. When Hines, who had attended the July 1 9 60 briefing, came to ATIC in August, Friend "thoroughly briefed" him on the Air Force method of conducting the UFO program, using "gov­ ernment-wide facilities to provide data and/ or assist with the analyses." ATIC officials, including Hynek, took Hines on a tour of the Aeronautical Systems Division facilities which, they said, gave support to the UFO program. Hines told Friend and Hynek that congressional interest in the program was due to pressures from ''undisclosed sources" on John W. .

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McCormack. The three men reasoned that Keyhoe was the culprit, especially since he had been behind previous con­ gressional inquiries, had spoken on radio and television about the need for congressional hearings, and had urged NICAP members to write to congressmen. Hines left ATIC "favor­ ably impressed" with the Air Force UFO program and en­ lightened about Keyhoe's intentions.4B A week later Hines wrote to Major Friend, addressing the letter "Dear Bob" and saying he had not talked to Karth yet but Chairman Overton Brooks had decided not to hold UFO hearings then or in the foreseeable future. "For this," Hines remarked, "I am sure both you and I breathe a deep sigh of relief." As a result of this decision, Hines explained, the " 'Plaintiffs' [meaning Keyhoe] have begun their clamor stimulated by notices in the press of our committee's interest in UFOs. "49 The following week Congressman Karth wrote to Keyhoe viciously attacking him for trying to " 'be-little,' 'defame,' 'ridicule' " the Air Force. He accused Keyhoe of "malicious intent toward a great branch of the military." Previously, Karth said, he thought Keyhoe planned to "prove" the exis­ tence of spaceships but knew now that Keyhoe could not do it (Keyhoe never claimed he could prove this ) . Therefore, Karth concluded, he was not interested in holding hearings or "listening to headline-making accusations (prompted it seems by past gripes ) in open debate between you and the Air Force." Karth became more agitated as the letter progressed. Answering Keyhoe's request for a face-to-face meeting before the executive session of the subcommittee, Karth said proto­ col called for the Air Force and NICAP to testify on differ­ ent days, and Keyhoe obviously wanted the direct confronta­ tion only to ask the Air Force embarrassing questions and in­ dulge in "grandstand acts of a rabble rousing nature where accusations may be made THAT COULDN'T BE AN­ SWERED BY ANYONE-the Air Force or NICAP." Karth was quick to claim, however, that "/ am not a captive of the A ir Force, I assure you." A few days later Major Friend quoted to Colonel Wynn what Karth had told a newspaper reporter : " [The reporter] was advised by that worthy gentle­ man that he would not be part of Major Keyhoe's cheap scheme to discredit the Air Force, and that there would be no hearing."50 Keyhoe weathered this attack and even managed to soften Karth's views. In answer to Karth's charges, Keyhoe replied

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

that he wanted the confrontation with the Air Force to occur in closed session only and that NICAP did not have "evi­ dence" that "UFOs were superior objects under intelligent control" and extraterrestrial. Moreover, the NICAP board of governors gave Karth "proof of NICAP's serious and patri­ otic purpose and its continued offer to cooperate with the Air Force." In place of its original plan, Keyhoe said, NICAP would offer its "massive UFO evidence". in accordance with congressional protocol. During the month of this exchange, Chairman Overton Brooks died. The new chairman, Con­ gressman George P. Miller of California, expressed neither an interest in UFOs nor a desire for hearings. On September 1 9, 1 9 6 1 , Karth wrote to Keyhoe : "Now that we better under­ stand each other, I would hope we could properly proceed with a new hearing early next year-providing that the new chairman authorizes hearings." Of course, the new chairman did not. Once more Keyhoe had watched the b ait dangle in front of him only to see it withdrawn at what he thought was the critical moment. lit Events on the UFO home front in 1 9 6 1 and 1 962 did not go well for NICAP and Keyhoe. When the organization first started in 1 958, Keyhoe maintained close and cordial contact with the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization ( APRO ) in Alamogordo, New Mexico ( before it moved to Tucson, Arizona ) . Although never convinced of the grand conspiracy theme, Coral Lorenzen ( d irector of APRO ) supported NI­ CAP by giving lip service to the idea. From 1 959 to 1 9 6 1 , however, she grew steadily away from this position. She had worked for the Air Force in a civilian capacity at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and had found no evidence for a conspiracy there, and she h ad the growing suspicion that the Air Force UFO program amounted to no more than public relations. Mrs. Lorenzen began to feel that NICAP's attacks on the Air Force were misguided. Moreover, APRO was more willing than NICAP to consider reports of UFO occupants. Although both groups strongly disavowed any con­ nection with the infamous contactees, APRO would accept reports of occupant sightings if the evidence warranted it whereas NICAP steadfastly refused to accept such reports be­ cause they seemed too similar to the contactees' bogus claims. NICAP scrupulously avoided even the vaguest hint of hoax. 52 The issues came to a head in 1 9 6 1 and 1 962 when both or­ ganizations felt a financial squeeze. Lack of a major sighting wave had caused a decrease in press publicity about UFOs

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The Battle for Congressional Hearings

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and public interest began to wane and membership to dwindle. Many people interested in UFOs belonged to both APRO and NICAP ; the 1 962 "recession" prompted some people to give up their dual membership. In an effort to re­ tain APRO's membership, Coral Lorenzen wrote an editorial in the newsletter stating that NICAP was basically a lobby group and members should remain in APRO because it was more active in research than in uselessly attacking the Air Force. This editorial represented an open break in the sim­ mering feud with NICAP, and the two organizations were never able to cooperate again. 58 Other UFO club members had been sniping at Keyhoe as well. James Moseley of the Saucer and Unexplained Celestial Events Research Society (SAUCERS ) thought the Air Force used Keyhoe to divert public attention from UFOs, and oth­ ers believed Lorenzen was right and Keyhoe's energies would be best spent in matters other than lobbying. The ever present contacts were another problem that plagued Keyhoe con­ stantly. He spent much time telling the press and NICAP members that he forbade contactees to j oin NICAP. But the contactees were a pesky lot. In 1 9 5 8 George Adamski claimed on television and radio shows that he was a member of NICAP. Keyhoe found to his horror that his secretary, second in command at NICAP, secretly had issued Adamski and other contactees membership cards because she was con­ vinced of their truthfulness. To Keyhoe this was treason in his own general staff and he accepted her resignation. On top of this, NICAP was in a continual state of financial crisis. Time and again Keyhoe sent out emergency pleas for dona­ tions to keep the organization solvent; the membership always contributed the necessary funds. 54 Through the rival UFO proponent attacks, contactee trou­ bles, and financial problems, Keyhoe steered a steady course aimed at Congress and the Air Force. Undoubtedly Keyhoe's most important activity in 1 962 was to compile with Richard Hall (who had replaced Keyhoe's secretary) a document con­ taining the best NICAP evidence to support the extraterres­ trial intelligence theory. The document contained numerous detailed sighting reports from reputable individu als, scientists' statements, congressmen's statements, and the like. NICAP issued this compendium to all congressmen who expressed an interest in UFOs and in the Air Force's handling of the mat­ ter. Most often, however, NICAP pushed for congressional investigations simply by showing congressmen key UFO re-


1 64

The UFO Controversy in A merica

ports and examples of Air Force secrecy and by its letter writing campaign.115 The Air Force's public relations problems remained--even though the Office of Information, the Office of Legislative Li­ aison, and the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intel­ ligence tried to avert congressional hearings, discredit NICAP and Keyhoe, and transfer the UFO project. And the sighting reports continued to come into ATIC at a steady rate of be­ tween 500 and 600 a year. ATIC received 474 reports in 1 962, and this was far from the desired goal of no reports at all . Consequently, in 1 962 ATIC made one final effort to transfer the UFO program. li s Edward R. Trapnell, assistant for public relations to the secretary of the Air Force, had become interested in the UFO program and requested a briefing from Lieutenant Coi onel Friend ( recently promoted from major ) . At the briefing, Friend and Hynek told Trapnell · about the Robertson panel's recommendations and the Air Force's attempts to educate the public by stripping the UFO program of its "aura of mystery" and putting it in "its proper perspective. " Trapnell "was amazed to learn" that UFO reports were, as Friend and Hynek had told him, three times higher in 1 962 than the yearly totals in the 1 947 to 1 9 5 1 period, and he observed that "this could grow into a lifetime job unless headed off in some manner."57 ,

Afterward, Trapnell met with the Secretary of the Air Force Zuckert, Dr. Brockway McMillan ( head of Air Force re­ search and development ) , and Dr. Robert Calkins ( president of the Brookings Institution) ; they suggested several transfer

plans . The Air Force could transfer the UFO program to an agency such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,

the National Science Foundation,

or the

Smithsonian Institution. Or the Air Force could contract it out to a private group, such as the Brookings Institution, which would operate the program under the auspices of an Air Force scientific complex such as, for example, the Office of Aerospace Research. Or, third, the Air Force could con­ tract the project to a private organization and not keep it un­ der Air Force auspices. The organization could "make posi­ tive statements regarding the program. and the Air Force's handling of it in the past and make recommendations re­ garding its future, i.e., disban[d] the program completely" or transfer it to NASA or the like. liS

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The Battle for Congressional Hearings

1 6.:>

Lieutenant Colonel Friend took a dim view of the transfer, which p ast experience had taught him was all but impossible because no one wanted the public relations problem that went with it. Friend believed the only two altern atives left were ei­ ther to disband the program or to contract it to a private or­ ganization under the Air Force's monitorship. Colonel Ed­ ward Wynn, who h ad taken over Colonel Evans's position as deputy for science and components, concurred with Friend but was even more pessimistic about any transfer possib ility. Transferring it to NASA or the N ational Science Foundation "would only serve to convince a larger segment of the public that sightings are due to visits to earth by interplanetary space vehicles. " Contracting the project out to another agency would be expensive, the public would think that the Air Force was secretly directing the p rivate agency to m ake cer­ tain statements, and the Air Force still would have to investi­ gate sightings even though the private group would analyze them. Thus, Colonel Wynn and the Foreign Technology Divi­ sion ( in 1 9 6 1 ATIC became p art of the Foreign Technology Division [FTD] of the Air Force Systems Command} thought the Air Force should emb ark on a public education program and eventually either disband the special proj ect en­ tirely while still investigating UFO reports at the air b ase level or, failing this, continue the UFO program in one of its scientific branches. 59 Despite these arguments, the Air Force tried once again to get rid of the UFO program. But again its attempts to get NASA or the National Science Foundation to handle the pro­ gram proved futile. In 1 962 the Air Force finally gave up the entire idea. The program remained at FTD as a special proj­ ect and without expanded resources. 60 The irony of the situa­

tion was that Keyhoe, through his persistent campaign against Air Force secrecy, unwittingly prevented the Air Force from approaching the problem more systematically. By keeping the UFO program and fighting public relations battles with Key­ hoe, the Air Force found it had a burden th at no other agency-private or public-wished to assume. In a sense NI­ CAP's fight to have the public recognize the seriousness of the UFO problem had, b ecause of the Air Force's counter ef­ forts, moved the UFO p roblem away from scientific scrutiny and closer toward Air Force control. After all transfer plans dissolved, Lieutenant Colonel Friend retired as head of Project Blue B ook in 1 963 and Ma­ jor Hector Quintanilla replaced him. Friend had realized that


166

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

the UFO program did not belong in the intelligence commu­ nity and had tried to transfer it to a more suitable branch of the service; when this failed, he had pushed for disbandment Quintanilla, on the other h and, made no efforts whatsoever to improve Blue Book's capabilities or to transfer the project He basically believed Blue Book was doing the best j ob it could and there was no reason to rock the boat by improving Blue Book's status. He looked on Blue Book as a collection and public relations agency, not as an investigatory or analy­ sis operation. He maintained complete belief in the Air Force's ability to cope with the UFO problem and its public component, envisioning his role as that of caretaker. s1 While Blue B ook's outlook was changing, congressional in­ terest declined and by mid- 1 9 63 reached a low point Ac­ cording to available evidence, G eorgia Congressman Carl Vinson made the last congressional inquiry into UFOs until 1 9 66.62 In spite of a decrease in press and congressional interest and in the number of UFOs reported to ATIC, NICAP con­ tinued its constant pressure on Congress. In 1 9 64 NICAP put together another compendium of facts surrounding the UFO enigma (basically a revised version of the previous compen­ dium ) . Published privately as The UFO Evidence, the 200page report contained the best evidence for extraterrestrial visitation NICAP could gather. It covered nearly every aspect of the UFO phenomenon, from details of over 700 sightings (at least 50 percent made by "trained or experienced ob­ servers") to congressional and scientific attitudes toward the subject Complete with charts, graphs, photostatic documents, Air Force statements, and NICAP rebuttals, the b ook placed the UFO controversy in h istorical context based on NICAP's perceptions of events. NICAP mailed a copy to every mem­ ber of Congress. Probably as a result of The UFO Evidence and incessant NICAP pressure on Congress, Blue B ook began to package its reports more attractively. Instead of issuing semiannual fact sheets, it began in 1 9 64 to print an annual booklet discussing in detail all the sightings and their statisti­ cal breakdowns, the Air Force's methodology, and the UFO program's history. It also included short articles and reprints on the improbabilities of extraterrestrial visitation. sa At this time Donald Menzel came out with his second book on UFOs, The World of Flying Saucers: A Scientific Examination of a Major Myth of the Space Age. Written with the help of science writer Lyle B oyd, the book basically


The Battle for Congressional Hearings

1 67

rehashed Menzel's 1 9 5 3 work. Although slightly more moder­ ate in his remarks about "flying saucer enthusiasts," Menzel refused to criticize the Air Force investigation or to temper his statements about the absurdity of the extraterrestrial visi­ tation theory. Branching out into the history of the UFO phe­ nomenon, he attributed the saucer sightings in the late 1 940s to the efforts of publisher Ray Palmer, who printed Kenneth Arnold's story ( "I Did See the Flying Disks" ) in the first is­ sue of Fate magazine. Menzel said the "panic" of 1 952 was a result of Ginna and Darrach's Life magazine article, the Look article on "Hunt for the Flying Saucers," and the issu­ ance of APR 200-2. These, plus the summer heat wave, mete­ ors, and the 1 9 5 1 motion picture The Day the Earth Stood Still, all acted on people's imaginations and they started seeing flying saucers. 64 Menzel went on to explain that the Robertson panel spent "five long days . . . analyzing every available act of evidence" relating to possible theories about UFOs and found no sup­ port for the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Menzel admitted that the Air Force should have declassified the panel's conclusions immediately because this would have ended the saucer scare at once. But, instead, "the UFO hysteria continued, and is still dying a slow and lingering death." The Air Force, of course, was enthusiastic about Menzel's book and called it "the most significant literary effort to date" on the UFO phe­ nomenon.65 Hynek (now at Northwestern University) , in the mean­ time, continued to change his attitude about UFOs and to call for increased scientific study. The 1 9 64 Lonnie Zamora case in Socorro, New Mexico, further changed Hynek's mind. While chasing a speeder at about 4 : 45 P . M . , Socorro Dep­ uty Marshal Lonnie Zamora heard a sound like a roar and saw flames off to his right in hilly desert terrain. He thought the dynamite shack there had exploded and abandoned the chase to investigate. He turned onto a dirt road leading to the dynamite shack. As he proceeded to the site, he saw a shiny, aluminum-like object, which he thought was an overturned car. He noticed two people in white coveralls standing next to the object. The person seemed surprised and quickly jumped. Zamora began to hurry toward them, thinking they needed help. He radioed to the sheriff's office that he was in the process of investigating an accident. 66 Zamora approached to within a hundred feet of the object and got out of his car. He then heard a loud roar that


168

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

changed in frequency from soft to loud to very loud. At the same time he spotted a strange blue and orange flame that appeared to be coming from the underside of the object. Zamora panicked. He turned and ran, bumping his leg against the car which made his glasses fall off. He glanced back a few times and noticed that the roaring object was egg shaped and had a red "insignia. " He also noticed that the object had lifted off the ground to a height of about twenty to twenty-five feet. The continued ro ar frightened Zamora, and he ducked down and covered his head with his arms. At that point the roar stopped and a high-pitched whine emanated from the object; then complete silence. Zamora lifted his head and saw the object heading away from him against the wind. He jumped up, ran back to his car, and immediately radioed the sheriff's station and asked the radio dispatcher to look out the window and try to see the object. The radio of­ ficer failed to see it. 67 Zamora then went to where the object had b een and dis­ covered burning brush in several pl aces and depressed marks in the ground. Three minutes later a sheriff who had been lis­ tening to the radio conversation arrived on the scene. Zamora was shaken, sweating, and pale. The sheriff looked around the area and also found the burning brush and indentations. Later a gas station attendant reported that a customer had mentioned seeing an unusual oval-shaped object heading in the direction of Zamora's sighting just before it happened. 68 This unusual case had important ramifications. The press heard about it and widely publicized it. Once again the public put pressure on the Air Force, congressmen, and the White House. Quintanilla dispatched Hynek to investigate the case personally. Hynek confirmed the burned areas and the de­ pressions, and he sent soil samples to the Air Force for analy­ sis. The analysis uncovered nothing unusual. Hynek inter­ viewed Zamora at length. Zamora was by this time weary of interviews because he had already related his story countless times to police officers, the FBI, newsmen, and civilian UFO groups, including APRO and NICAP. Zamora impressed Hy­ nek, who found the deputy marshal to be highly credible and reliable. Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, who had worked on old Project Twinkle, knew Zamora and testified to his honesty. Zamora was telling the truth, Hynek concluded. Hynek's report stated that this was one of the "maj or UFO sightings in the history of the Air Force's consideration of the subject." To the press he declared that the sighting was "one of the soundest, best

1;


The Battle for Congressional Hearings

1 69

substantiated reports. " Privately Hynek cautioned Quintanilla that the UFO organizations would probably make a large commotion over this sighting. 69 Quintanilla immediately began to work on the case with the assumption that Zamora had seen something. Quintanilla reasoned that the landing mechanisms of an experimental lunar landing module could have made the depressions in the ground . He discreetly contacted NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and fifteen industrial firms to see if they were conducting any experiments with lunar landing modules in the area. In each case the answer was no. Quintanilla also es­ tablished that no helicopters or aircraft were in the area at the time of the sighting and that the direction of the winds ruled out the possibility that the object was a balloon. Quin­ tanilla had no alternative. He listed the case as unidentified. This is the only combination landing, trace, and occupant case listed as unidentified in Blue Book files. The case had an impact on NICAP. Prior to this, NICAP had scrupulously avoided any occupant cases because they smacked of contacteeism . But because of Zamora's reliability and credibility, and because the Air Force listed this case as unidentified, NICAP began slowly to reevalu ate its position. As a result, NICAP moved closer to APRO's stance re­ garding occupant cases and the sighting served to "liberalize" the organization. 70 Perhaps the case affected Hynek the most : he now came to virtually the opposite position to that which he had held when he started as an Air Force consultant in 1 948. He was ready to accept privately some sensational cases as being a legiti­ mate part of the UFO controversy. By the end of 1 964 the UFO controversy had reached a type of stalemate. On the one side were Keyhoe, NICAP, and, to some extent, APRO. Keyhoe had some support in Congress and NICAP still had prestigious people on its board of gover­ nors. Also on this side were the sightings, an ever present source of embarrassment and concern for the Air Force, which had forced itself into the position of categorizing virtu­ ally every UFO witness as credulous, gullible, or easily de­ ceived. NICAP's policies, popular pressure, and the sightings creatc;:d congressional interest and the threat of hearings. On the other side was the Air Force with its three-pronged counterattack : ATIC to evaluate the sighting reports, SAFOI to deal with public inquiries, and SAFLL to counter con­ gressional hearings. The tool they used was elaborate


1 70

The UFO Controversy in A merica

briefings. While not containing complete fabrications, the briefings, except during Robert Friend's tenure, were certainly deceptive and designed to place the Air Force in the best pos­ sible light and its critics in the worst. Helping the Air Force in its public relations were the mass media and most scien­ tists. The latter, believing Air Force press releases and with­ out extensive research experience in the UFO phenomenon, derided the legitim acy of the subject and castigated the people who considered it important. Donald Menzel stood out of this group as the Air Force's leading scientist-ally, as the self-professed UFO debunker, and, as he characterized himself, "the man who shot Santa Cl aus." In the middle of the warring factions stood Hynek. The amount of time he took to change his attitude, the better part of nine years, was a testament to his caution and his concern over other scientists' criticism of him for taking the subject of UFOs seriously. By 1 9 64, though, it was questionable whether he was the Air Force's ally. The opposing forces faced each other in a standoff. The Air Force public relations policies had to some extent de­ creased public concern over UFOs, but NICAP and APRO continued to bring the subject to public attention. Congress had not held hearings on the subject, as Keyhoe and NICAP wanted, but the Air Force had averted them only barely. Congress had pushed for expansion of the scientific aspect of the program, but the Air Force managed to avert this also. And within the Air Force itself, ATIC wanted to transfer the program but other divisions refused to take it. The two vari­ ables that NI CAP and the Air Force could not predict were Hynek and the number of sighting reports. At the beginning of 1 965, these two unknowns assumed paramount importance and opened another front in the continuing battle.

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l.

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8

1 9 65:

THE TURNING POINT IN THE CONTROVERSY

For seventeen years, 1 947 t o 1 9 64, the UFO controversy raged within the confines of special interest groups-the Air Force on one hand and the private UFO organizations on the other. The press, public, and Congress became involved sporadically, but for them the subject of UFOs and the con­ troversy over the phenomenon had only fleeting interest, de­ pending on the frequency of the reports. The Air Force and private group charges and countercharges remained unimpor­ tant for most people. The one group that might have given the subject dramatic interest and popular importance-the scientists-remained silent. But the period from 1 965 to 1 967 marked a turning point in the controversy. Those who had been on the periphery of the controversy became actively en­ gaged in it. The press, public, Congress, and the scientific community all entered the debate over UFOs. As a result, the Air Force finally gave up its near monopoly of the UFO study and asked a university to examine the phenomenon. The impetus for this turning point was the one unknown variable, and the crux of all the controversy-UFO sightings. Although ATIC recorded sighting reports at an average rate of 30 to 50 per month for the first six months of 1 965, it re­ ceived 1 35 reports in July and 262 in August. This began a wave that continued until the middle of 1 9 67. The increase in reports prompted widespread press and public criticism of the Air Force UFO program and an outpouring of popular arti­ cles and books on UFOs. A long drought of press publicity on UFOs ended in 1 965. Since 1 957 the press had accepted the Air Force viewpoint and had refrained from criticizing it. Many newspapers even 17 1


1 72

The UFO Controversy in A merica

refused to carry sighting reports because editors decided the reports were only illusions, fabrications, or misidentifications of natural phenomena. Because no significant wave of sight­ ings had occurred since 1 9 57, newspaper editors thought the UFO fascination had ended. But in August 1 965, following a series of spectacular UFO sightings in Texas, press interest revived.l The new attitude seemed to be a product of frustra­ tion over the Air Force's inability to explain UFOs. Since Air Force pronouncements had not affected the number of sight­ ing reports, more newspaper editors and reporters became suspicious of the Air Force's role. Some newspapers even seemed to agree with NICAP's conspiracy theories. The Charleston (South Carolina) Evening Post reported in 1965 that "something is going on 'up there' and we rather suspect the Air Force knows it." When the Air Force re­ ceived a UFO report, the Evening Post stated, it "immedi­ ately begins to crank out of the wild blue yonder the same pre-recorded announcement it has been playing for 20 years : scratch, scratch, the Air Force has no evidence. . . If our courts shared the Air Force's professed suspicion of credit­ able witnesses our jails would be empty. " The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel printed a compilation of newspaper edito­ rials in early September 1 965 and noted that many editorial writers had changed focus "from outright scepticism to at least tentative belief'' in extraterrestrial visitation. If these edi­ torial writers joined with congressmen interested in the UFO problem, the Orlando Sentinel predicted, then "perhaps some­ thing will happen," and the Air Force would be forced to open its classified UFO files. "Whether UFOs or not, the pub­ lic deserves to know. "2 The Fort Worth Star Telegram said " [the Air Force] can stop kidding us now about there being no such things as fly­ ing saucers . . . . It's going to take more than a statistical re­ port on how many reported saucers turned out to be jets and weather balloons to convince us otherwise." The editor of the Richmond (Virginia) News Leader wrote that only im­ prudent people would deny the possibility that UFOs were real : "Attempts to dismiss the reported sightings serve only to heighten the suspicion that there's something out there. The Air Force doesn't want us to know." For the A la­ meda ( California) Times-Star the time was "long overdue" for governmental disclosure of all it knew about UFOs. "It would surprise no one today to learn that some UFOs are spacecraft from elsewhere in the solar system or beyond. In •

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The Turning Point in the Controversy

1 73

fact, it would even be more surprising to learn that they were not."8 The Christian Science Monitor remarked that recent sight­ ings over Texas gave "the clearest evidence of all that some­ thing strange was actually in the sky." The Monitor called for a "thorough look at the saucer mystery. " A week later Moni­ tor natural science editor Robert C. Cowen said that although the Air Force has tried to brush off puzzling reports with handy explanations, "something is definitely going on that cannot yet be explained" and "the long standing saucer mys­ tery begs for thorough scientific study." As if to soften a hastily taken stand, a few weeks later he wrote that additional data could clear up the puzzling reports and that he did not really believe in extraterrestrial visitation.4 By the end of 1 965 ATIC had received 8 8 7 reports for the year. This large wave created great public interest in UFOs and the Air Force's investigation of them. As usual, the sight­ ing wave also prompted a host of explanations. Astronomer Robert L. Brown of Southern Connecticut State College of­ fered one of the most ingenious : saucer sightings were actu­ ally lunar dust ; when the retrorockets on the Russian moon satellite ( Lunik V) fired, a dust cloud rose up and the earth's gravitational field pulled it in ; the dust could hover, become luminous, or move erratically; therefore, the saucer mystery could be "resolved in rather simple terms devoid of any refer­ ence to visitors from outer space. " A spokesman for the Fed­ eral Aviation Agency gave reporters a more standard ex­ planation when he said the sightings were due to the "long, hot summer," which "expedites the imagination."5 Some scientists expressed reservations about the Air

Force's pat explanations for UFOs, and the Wall Street Jour­ nal printed some of these opinions. I. M. Levitt, director of the Fels Planetarium, who made national news in 1 952 by calling the famous Washington, D.C., sightings mirages and temperature inversions, now urged the Air Force to admit that "there are natural phenomena taking place under our noses of which we know nothing . . . . The Air Force is trying to explain something that isn't susceptible to explanation." Robert Risser, director of the Oklahoma Science and Art Foundation Planetarium, criticized the Air Force explanation of the August sightings as stars. Those stars, Risser said, were not visible at that time of year and "the Air Force must have had its star-finder upside down during August." Dr. Frank Salisbury, a plant physiologist at Utah State University who


1 74

The UFO Controversy in A merica

was rapidly becoming a proponent of the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis as a r�sult of studying UFO reports, said that people had to consider the tentative possibility that UFOs were "spaceships. "6 Columnist John Fuller, in an article for the Saturday Re­ view, greatly stimul ated public interest in the subject. Fuller, a self-professed skeptic about UFOs, decided to investigate thoroughly " at least one specific case of UFO-chasing"; he contacted NICAP, which brought a case in Exeter, New Hampshire, to his attention. Upon investigation Fuller found two policemen and a nineteen-year-old college student who had observed at close range a large, metallic-like object that hovered silently over them. At one poitit the object swooped down and came so dose to the amazed witnesses that they

had to drop to the ground ; the policemen went for their guns but did not draw. Fuller's article caught the attention of the G. P. Putnam publishing firm, which commissioned him to write a book on the Exeter sightings. He spent over a month in Exeter interviewing UFO witnesses and uncovered over seventy-five additional sightings. This experience convinced­ him that there was "overwhelming evidence" that UFOs were extraterrestrial. Before Putnam published Fuller's book, Look magazine printed excerpts from it and insured a wide reader­ ship.' In the meantime, the subject of UFOs became a staple of Fuller's Saturday Review column. By January 1 966, a month before the Look article appeared, Fuller believed that "the truth" about UFOs would not remain hidden forever. "In fact," he said, "many are wondering if it isn't time for the government either to explain whatever it knows, or to order a research project to investigate the phenomenon and reveal the facts. " When the Air Force interpreted what the two police men and the college student saw as a mirage caused by a tem­ perature inversion, Fuller began to consider seriously the idea of an Air Force cover-up about UFOs. These statements plus the Look article made Fuller a nationally known authority on UFOs. With the phenomenon so much in vogue, he added to UFO publicity by becoming a frequent visitor to television interview shows. s Fuller was not the only UFO proponent to capitalize on media interest. During the last months of 1 965 and the first months of 1 966, Keyhoe and NICAP staff members appeared on the "Today'' show, the ''Tonight" show, NBC's panel show "Open Mind," "The Mike Douglas Show," and many radio


The Turning Point in the Con troversy

115

shows, and accepted numerous speaking engagements. This visibility helped NICAP's continuing campaign to publicize the UFO phenomenon. From 1 9 5 7 to 1 9 66, Keyhoe, NICAP board members, and NICAP general members had appeared on over nine hundred television and radio shows and conduct­ ed over five hundred public discussions; Keyhoe himself was responsible for four hundred broadcasts and a hundred public talks.o The renewed interest in UFOs during 1 9 65 to 1 967 started a fad in television shows. Just as sighting reports in the early 1 950s had stimulated motion pictures with flying saucer themes, the revived interest in the middle 1 9 60s stimu­ lated several television shows with either flying saucer or in­ terplanetary travel themes. Among these were "Star Trek," which used a version of 1 948 Captain Mantell incident for one of its episodes, "Lost in Space," and "The Invaders," which continued the old motion picture extraterrestrial-as­ hostile theme. With the increased interest and publicity i n 1 965, the Air Force became worried. Hynek took advantage of this concern and wrote to Colonel Spaulding about the need for a scien­ tific investigation of the UFO phenomenon. Hynek proposed that a panel of civilian scientists carefully review the UFO situation "to see whether a major problem really exists" and to make recommendations about the program's future status within the Air Force. The Air Force, now looking in earnest · for a solution to its problem, took Hynek's suggestions under advisement and turned the UFO program's future over to the Public Information Office. On September 28, 1 9 65, Director of Information General E. B. LeBailly wrote to the military director of the Air Force's scientific advisory board and said that the assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and oper­ ations (General Arthur C. Agan) had found Project Blue Book to be a worthwhile program deserving more support and that the Air Force should continue to investigate UFOs "to assure that such objects do not present a threat to our na­ tional security" ; the project would remain at FTD.1o LeBailly also noted that reputable individuals, "whose in­ tegrity cannot be doubted," made many reports and that, in addition, reports sent to the Air Force represented only a small portion of the "spectacular reports which are publicized by many private UFO organizations." Using Hynek's sugges­ tion, LeBailly requested "that a working scientific panel com­ posed of both physical and social scientists be organized to review Project Blue Book-its resources, methods, and find-


1 76

The UFO Controversy in A merica

ings-and to advise the Air Force as to any improvements that should be made in the program to carry out the Air Force's assigned responsibility. "l l The panel resulting from the LeB ailly letter turned out to be the impetus for a new approach to the problem and for taking the investigation out of military h ands. Called the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book, it featured Dr. Brian O'Brien as chairman and five other scientists as partici­ pants : Drs. Carl S agan, Jesse Orlansky, Launor Carter, Will is A. Ware, and Richard Porter. All the scientists but Sagan were members of the Air Force's scientific advisory board. The committee met for one day in February 1 9 66, at which time it reviewed the Robertson report of 1 95 3 and heard a briefing from Quintanilla and the FTD staff. 12 The committee members were satisfied that UFOs did not threaten the national security, that the Air Force program was "well organized" albeit "quite limited," and that no UFO case represented technological or scientific advances outside of a terrestrial framework. Although the committee found that most unidentified reports lacked sufficient data, it also discovered some questionable identified reports that also lacked sufficient data and did not belong in the identified cate­ gory. Assuming that it was always possible for a sighting to have scientific value, the committee recommended that the UFO program "be strengthened to provide opportunity for scientific investigation of selected sigbtings in more detail and

depth than bas been possible to date. " To accomplish this, the

committee suggested that the

Air Force negotiate contracts

"with a few selected universities to provide selected teams to

investigate promptly and in depth certain selected sigbtings of

UFOs" ;. a single university should coordinate the teams,

which together should study a hundred sigbtings per year, de­ voting an average of ten man-days to each investigation and the resulting report. The committee recommended that each

team have at least one psychologist, "preferably one inter­ ested in clinical psychology," a physical scientist, and an as­

tronomer or astrophysicist, and that air b ase UFO officers

should work with the teams. The committee hoped these new

investigations would "provide a far better b asis than we have today for a decision on a long term UFO program. " 13

In addition, the committee, being aware of the Air Force's

public relations difficulties, recommended disseminating Proj­ ect Blue Book reports among "prominent members of the


The Turning Point in the Controversy

177 .

Congress and other public persons" to give evidence that the Air Force took a scientific approach.t4 The O'Brien committee represented both a break in and a continuation of Air Force UFO policy. It broke with policy in recommending that a university conduct a systematic, de­ tailed study of UFO reports. It continued policy in recom­ mending, in different language, that the Air Force resolve its UFO problem by getting rid of the program. Contracting out the investigation to a university was another means of trans­ ferring the program. The Air Force moved cautiously and it held back on implementing the recommendations. It waited to see if the new "flying saucer scare" would die down. It did not. The sighting wave that began in July 1 9 6 5 continued through 1 967. In fact, more sightings came into Blue Book in 1 966 and 1 967 than in 1 9 6 5 , making this the first time sight­ ing reports remained at very high levels for three consecutive years. Public interest grew enormously : a May 1 9 q6 Gallup Poll indicated that 96 percent of the people polled had heard or read about flying saucers ; of these, 46 percent thought them to be "real," and 29 percent, "im aginary" ; moreover, 5 percent of the people who had heard of flying saucers thought they had seen one personally-projected to the gen­ eral population, this represented approximately nine million people.15 Once again the flying saucer "hysteria" gripped the country, with one dramatic sighting after another filling news­ paper and magazine articles. The Gallup Poll findings may have been due to one of the most widely publicized events in the history of the UFO controversy : the furor over the ex­ planation of the Dexter and Hillsdale, Michigan, sightings in March 1 966. On March 20, 1 966, eighty-seven women students and a civil defense director at Hillsdale College saw a football­ shaped, glowing object hovering over a swampy area a few hundred yards from the women's dormitory. The witnesses claimed the object flew directly at the dormitory but then stopped suddenly and retreated b ack to the swamp. The ob­ ject "dodged an airport beacon light, " appeared to dim when automobiles approached the area, and then "brightened when the cars left." The witnesses watched the object for four hours. The next day five people-including two police of­ ficers-in Dexter s aw a l arge, glowing object rise from a swampy area on a farm, hover for a few minutes at about 1 ,000 feet, and then leave the area. Over one hundred


178

The UFO Controversy in A merica

witnesses saw objects on these two nights in two Michigan cities sixty-three miles apart. The story of these somewhat routine sightings caught fire. Within a few days virtually ev­ ery newspaper in the country and all national news shows carried the report. Reporters put intense pressure on the Air Force to investigate the incidents and arrive at a solution immediately. t e Quintanilla sent Hynek to the scene. When he arrived, he encountered a situation "so charged with emotion that it was impossible for [him] to do any really serious investigation." He had to fight his way through reporters to interview . the witnesses, and the entire region "was gripped with near-hys­ teria." Police, he said, madly chased stars they thought to be flying saucers and people believed spaceships swarmed in the area. After his investigation, Hynek held a press conference to explain what happened. He claimed that the Air Force or­ dered him to hold the press conference ; Quintanilla, on the other hand, claimed that Hynek informed him that he had the solution and therefore gave Hynek permission to hold the conference. l T Whatever the impetus, the press conference became a singularly important event in the history of the UFO contro­ versy. It was the largest press conference in tlie Detroit Press Club's history. Hynek described it as a "circus," with a melange of television cameramen, newspapermen, photogra­ phers, and others all "clamoring for a single, spectacular ex­ planation of the sightings." Hynek explained that the faint lights people had observed could have been the result of de­ caying vegetation that spontaneously ignited and created a faint glow-this phenomenon is known as marsh gas. As soon as he handed out the written press statement, Hynek recalled, he "watched with horror as one reporter scanned the page, found the phrase 'swamp gas,' underlined it, and rushed for a telephone." Journalism Professor Herbert Strentz, in his study of newspaper attitudes toward UFOs, pointed out that "press and public reactions to the 'swamp gas' theory were prompt, wide-ranging and generally hostile"; not one of the hundred witnesses involved in the sightings accepted the explanation. t s The swamp gas solution became an object of ridicule and humor throughout the nation. Cartoons lampooning the solu­ tion appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, and press coverage of UFOs increased steadily during March and April 1 9 66. Life magazine ran an eight-page feature on the Hillsdale sightings and UFOs, including full-page color pho_


The Turning Point in the Controversy

1 79

tographs of various UFOs. Entitled "Well-Witnessed Invasion by Something : Australia to Michigan," Life's story hit hard at the swamp gas explanation through interviewing witnesses and showing photographs of the area. An article in The New Yorker magazine stated acidly : "We read the official explana­ tions with sheer delight, marveling at their stupendous inade­ quacy. Marsh gas, indeed ! Marsh gas is more appropriate an image of that special tediousness one glimpses in even the best scientific minds." On the other hand, Time continued its ridicule of the idea that UFOs might be extraterrestrial and agreed with the swamp gas explanation; it called the current wave of sightings "primaveral deliriusion" and said the sight­ ings exemplified an "American mythology." The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) featured Hynek's explanation in red, front-page, banner headlines, and an editorial bluntly stated that the swamp gas theory "smells."19 The New York Times printed a witness's drawing of the Dexter UFO and compared it to a drawing of one of George Adamski's sightings ; the New York Times lumped Adamski and the witnesses from Dexter in the same category. In the same issue, reporter Evert Clark wrote that Congress held back from investigating UFO sightings because it would "en­ courage the idea that there is more to the unidentified flying objects than mistaken sightings of natural and manmade ob­ jects" ; an investigation "might frighten much of the pub­ lic by seeming to indicate concern in Congress." In an­ other editorial, the New York Times continued to oppose the idea that the UFO phenomenon was unique : "people who are conditioned by television, comic strips and books to believe in flying saucers find it easy to see them in [man-made} phenome­ " na, and the Michigan sightings typified people's "strange propensity for seeing what they want to see." But th e Chris­ tian Science Monitor said the recent sightings and investiga­ tion in Michigan had "deepened the mystery" of UFOs, and "it is time for the scientific community to conduct a thorough and objective study of the 'unexplainable.' " Syndicated columnist Roscoe Drummond decided that the swamp gas ex­ planation had signaled the time "for Congress to take charge" in an investigation and "a more thorough and objective search for the facts is in order. "20 In early April 1 966, probably in reaction to the Michigan sightings, CBS news began to investigate the UFO problem. The result was a nationally televised news show, "UFOs : Friend, Foe or Fantasy?," narrated by Walter Cronkite. In .

.


1 80

The UFO Controversy in A merica

it, Donald Menzel reiterated his theory that UFOs were misidentifications of unusual atmospheric conditions. Secre­ tary of the Air Fotce Harold Brown assured the viewers that the Air Force was not withholding information from the pub­ lic. Ex-SAFOI officer Lawrence Tacker called attacks on the Air Force "senseless and vicious. " Radar experts claimed that they bad never picked up UFOs on their radarscopes. Several astronomers said that no one involved in tracking satellites or meteors had taken pictures of UFOs. Carl Sagan, a member of the O'Brien panel, talked of "flying saucer cultists." The theme of the show came across clearly : UFOs were misiden­ tifications, delusions, hoaxes, and products of the will to be­ lieve and of societal stress. To reinforce the "experts, " CBS devoted long sections of the. show to the contactees. The network sent a camera crew to the Giant Rock Convention, where the CBS staff inter­ viewed George Van Tassel and other contactees. The show also included sections of a filmed interview with George Adamski, who bad died a year before. For "balance," CBS spoke with Keyhoe, who accused the Air Force of withholding information, with Hynek, who made a noncommittal statement, and with Charles Gibbs­ Smith, an aviation histori an, who strongly advocated the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis. Gibbs-Smith showed the CBS staff a film clip of what he said was a spaceship. The staff proved, beyond a doubt, that the film clip showed only a refraction of part of an airplane, thus successfully destroying Gibbs­ Smith's credibility. At the end of the hour-long show, Cronkite tried to sum up the various viewpoints. People should keep an open mind, be said, because "yesterday's fantasy is tomorrow's reality." Yet the viewers must remember, Cronkite intoned, that "while fantasy improves science fiction, science is more often served by fact. The show was televised in May, too late to have any effect on the fast-moving events of March and April. The uproar over the latest wave of sightings in general and the Dexter-Hillsdale ones in particular was so great that Wes­ ton E. Vivian (Democratic congressman from Michigan ) and Gerald R. Ford ( then House Republican minority leader ) re­ sponded to their constituents' concern and formally called for congressional hearings. In a letter to the House Armed Ser­ vices Committee requesting the hearings, Ford enclosed several newspaper articles criticizing the Air Force investigation of the events in Michigan and the New Hampshire sigbtings. ·


The

Turning Point in the Controversy

181

Referring to these and other public statements questioning the Air Force, Ford said "the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force"; to "establish credulity" about UFOs, he strongly recommended a committee investigation of the subject. Keyhoe, of course, quickly praised Ford's suggestion, telling the Associated Press that the Pentagon had a "top level policy of discounting all UFO reports" and that the Air Force for years had used ridi­ cule to debunk sightings. 2 1 The House Armed Services Committee acted on Ford's suggestion. On April 5, 1 9 6 6-for the first time in the history of the controversy over unidentified flying objects--Congress held an open hearing on the subject. The committee, under the chairmanship . of L. Mendel Rivers, invited only three people to testify; Secretary of the Air Force Harold D. Brown, Project Blue Book Chief Hector Quintanilla, and Hy­ nek-all associated with the Air Force. The committee did not invite a NICAP representative, but a NICAP member submitted material for the record, hoping this would balance the Air Force testimony. 22 Secretary Brown began the formal testimony by reading a statement outlining the Air Force views as made public in its press releases, fact sheets, and Blue Book reports; he included the LeBailly letter and the report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book (the O'Brien committee) . Brown's main argument relied on the familiar refrain that no evidence existed to prove that UFOs threatened the national security or came from extraterrestrial origins. 23 Hynek spoke next. Reacting to press criticism of his swamp gas explanation and rankling over charges that he was a puppet of the Air Force, Hynek said he would read a "dar­ ing" statement "which has certainly not been dictated by the Air Force. " He made his now frequent point that UFOs deserved the scientific community's attention. He warned that complete adherence to the policy that all UFO reports had conventional explanations "may tum out to be a roadblock in the pursuit Qf research endeavors." The Air Force had claimed time and again that it could either identify an object or prove the sighting invalid if it investigated the case long enough ; this, Hynek said, was an example of a "poverty of hypotheses" and investigators were apt to miss "matters of great scientific value" if the phenomena did not fit the "ac­ cepted scientific outlook of the time." He called for a civilian panel of scientists to examine the UFO program critically ·


1 82

The UFO Controversy in A merica

and to determine if a major problem actually existed. Quin­ tanilla made no formal statement.24 During the questioning following the formal testimony, Secretary Brown mentioned that he was considering the O'Brien committee's recommendation for a private study. The congressional committee seized on this and said several times how pleased it was to hear this. Hynek then pointed out that foreign governments looked to the United States Air Force for guidance in UFO matters but the Air Force had opened no official lines of inquiry or scientific exchange with any other government. Brown countered Hynek by saying the Air Force had no scientific information to exchange, and the thrust of the program had been to give the public a certain kind of evidence so that the UFO phenomenon did not "get more out of hand." Following the questioning there was a general discussion about pub lic pressure and press publicity, especially the Life magazine article which had appeared the previous week. The hearings closed amidst much tongue-in­ cheek humor, a few questions to Quintanill a , and an ex­ pression of satisfaction that the Air Force would implement the O'Brien recommendations.2s The committee had presented a fait accompli to Brown. Although he had only b een considering the O'B rien recom­ mendations, that afternoon-as soon as the hearing con­ cluded-he directed the Air Force chief of staff to accept the O'Brien committee recommendations and to make arrange­ ments for a scientific team to investigate selected UFO sight­ ings. By deciding to contract out the UFO study to a univer­ sity, the Air Force tacitly acknowledged that its nineteen years of investigation and analysis had been inadequate. The UFO program had constantly embarrassed the Air Force : private groups continually attacked the Air Force, cit­ izens who thought something must be up there distrusted the Air Force, congressmen threatened it with hearings, and, above all, the sighting reports continued . Since 1 947 the Air Force had been in the unenviable position of having to pass judgment on every report of an unusual occurrence in the sky. And because these judgments were not always convinc­

ing, for years the Air Force tried to placate the public and Congress with fact sheets and special briefings. Even high­ ranking government officials tried to help until the very end. In a sess ion of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, just five days before the UFO hearings, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Joint Chiefs of Stat! Chairman General Earle


The Turning

Point in

ti:e Controversy

183

'\\'e 'h eler both stated for th� record that UFOs did not rep resent a unique phenomeno n and that the Air Force 's in­ vestigation was adequate. But none of these efforts :stopped the mounting disco nt ent and , in April 1966, the Air Force fi­ nally moved to extricate itself from the lJFO dilemm3... The open congressional hearings did not directly force the Air Force to support a scientific investigation of UFOs b ut cer­ tainly did insure that it would take place. 2tS The Air F orce formed a panel of si't �ople to help carry out the O"Brien committee recommendations. The panel con­ sisted of O'Brien and another member of the ori:f..nal ad hcc committee, two military personnel from the Air Force Scien­ tific Advisory Board, a representative from the Air Force Of­ fice of Public Information, and Lieuten�t Colo nel Robert Hippler of the Office of Scientific Research, 'WIIilo was respon­ sible for obtaining university participation in the project. General James Ferguson ( deputy chief of staff for research

and development) assumed the duty of adm inistering all t:J.e panel's decisions. 27 The panel first decided to find a "lead university" th:!t could best coordinate a set of investigation teams, and with assistance from the National Academ of Sciences, the pa.::.el prepared a list of twenty-five prospective universities. Because

y

the UFO problem was "an emotional phenomenon." Dr. O'Brien said, he thought his friend Dr. Horton G. Stever, president of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, should

write letters to university presidents to get a feel for their atti­ tudes toward the p roject. Recognizing that the t'FO program '\\-as "99% " public relations, the panel recommended th:1t the propos ed investigating teams have the necessary skills "to give

good

Air F o rce public relations." The panel W:lllted both Hy­ nek and Menzel to be on the investigating teams, but then re­ versed this decision because both me n had made public t..'le i-r feelings on the subject. The results of the proposed investiga­ tion hopefully would allow the Air Force finally to know whether to continue the UFO program in its present capacity. to increase efforts, or, as the panel put it, to ""discontinue the effort and get the Air F o rce out of the business.'�:> It was not until May 9, 1 9 66, that the Air Force disclosed publicly its plan to contract with scientists for a UFO investi­

gation. B ut by the time the prospects looked to Colorado psychologist and future p roject R. Saunders, none of the universities Colonel interest in the UFO p roject would h:1 ve it,

dim. According member DaYid Hippler tried to presumably t--=-


1 84

The UFO Controversy in A merica

cause of the public relations problem and the topic's "illegiti­ macy. " Harvard , the Massa chusetts Institute of Technology, the Uni versity of North Carolina, the University of Califor­ ni a, and others h ad turned down the project. During the search the Air Force abandoned its plan to h ave several uni­ versities coordinate investigating teams and looked for only one university to conduct the entire study. When Colonel Hippler failed , Dr. William T. Price (Air Force Officer of Scientific Research ) tried ; he too was unsuccessful. Finally, Dr. J. Thomas Ratchford ( Office of Scientific Research ) joined in the hunt for a "buyer." He first tried to interest the Natio n al Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado--t o no avail. The center's director, Dr. Walter Orr Roberts, sug­ gested the University of Colorado. When Ratchford asked Colorad o in August 1 96 6 to take the project, he assured the administration and faculty chairmen that the National Center for Atmospheric Research h ad been the Air Force's first choice and Colorado its second . The University of Colorado was interested.29 The decision to accept the Air Force's proposal rested in large part on the composition of tt> e Department of Psychol­ ogy faculty. Because the Air Force Office of Scientific Research required at least one clinical psychologist to be at­ tached to the project and other psychologists in the fields of perception, cognition, and data gathering to help if possible, the Department of Psychology had to be sure it could recruit people with these q u a l ifications. It d id not see this as a prob­ lem and was receptive to the idea of taking the study. Fur­ thermore, the Air Force offered an appealing incentive : it would forgo congressional cost-sharing regulations for federal grants so that tr e t• niversity would have to pay only one dol­ lar to receive $ 3 00,000. D avid Saunders thought th at as a result of legislative bud get cuts for the university, the $ 300,000 government offer may h ave looked especially good to Colorado and m ay h ave been a factor in the decision. Also, in its zeal to indu ce the University of Colorado to take the project, the Air Force turned the prant into a contract; this meant that the government added $ 1 3,000 to the $300,000 to cover the un iversity's cost of operating the program. ( Eventu­ ally an extension brought the total sum to over $500,000. ) 30 Ratchford and Price tried to i nterest internationally known physicist and former head of the National Bureau of Stan­ dards, Dr. Edward U. Condon, in being the project director. But Condon was not anxious to accept the job. He was revis-

, r


The Turning Point in the Controversy

1 85

ing his book on atomic spectra and running for public elec­ tion to the University of Colorado's Board of Regents. Ratch­ ford told him that the job was "a dirty chore" but somebody had to do it. If Condon did, people would believe him more than "just some ordinary guy." Condon later said : "I fell for this. Flattery got him somewhere. " S t

Condon's credentials made him the ideal person for the Air Force, which wanted the project leader to be a prestigious scientist and to have the proper political outlook. Condon fit the job description in every way. He h ad coauthored the first textbook on quantum mechanics in this country, and he had written the standard work in the field of atomic spectra. He was a world renowned physicist. He was also politically ac­ ceptable. The Air Force d id not want someone so far left or right of center that his credibility would be impaired. When Condon headed the National Bureau of Standards, he ran afoul of Richard Nixon and the House Committee on Un­ American Activities. The committee, spearheaded by Nixon, thought Condon was a security risk because Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace, whom the committee thought to be a Communist, had appointed Condon to his post. Also, Condon's wife was Czechoslovakian, and h e had fraternized with various liberals and foreigners. Hauled before the com­ mittee, Condon refused to knuckle under, and after a long and hard fight between him and the committee and various loyalty review boards, Condon was completely exonerated. He came out of the fight with his scientific and political cre­ dentials intact, and he appeared to be a fighter against the es­ tablishment. Now as he took on the UFO project, he em­ barked on one of the most difficult and troublesome tasks of his career.32 On October 7, 1 966, the Air Force publicly announced that the University of Colorado had accepted the UFO study project and that Edward U. Condon would be in charge. With the announcement Condon named three other men to work on the project : Assistant Dean of the Graduate School Robert Low as project coordinator, and psychologists Franklin Roach and Stuart Cook as principal investigators. The use of psychologists fulfilled the Air Force's requirement. The program, the Denver Post reported, was "designed to quiet public fears of the aerial objects. " 33 Reactions to the announcement varied. The Denver Post favored the decision, which it called "wise" because the Air Force had not been able to satisfy the American people. AI-


�:.b

T��O:·�:-:::::m=..w.

John penonally thought UFOs had something to do with "dying comets," be felt that the Condon committee would have a "fairer chance of clearing the air" of the bitterness that had developed over the UFO argument in recent years. Two Colorado congress­ men were delighted over the Air Force's selection of the uni­ versity; they thought this proved that the University of Colorado "has the academic climate to satisfy and stimulate the scientific community" and that therefore the Atomic Energy Commission would be more prone to place the National Ac­ celerator Laboratory in Colorado. S4 Hynek and Keyhoe, of course, were positive. Writing in the Saturday Evening Post, Hynek said the establishment of the Condon committee gave him a feeling of "personal triumph and vindication." He was especially pleased that the committee would have enough time to review the phenome­ non thoroughly, for he could not consider anyone an authority on the subject unless that person had read "at least a few thousand original ( not summary ) reports" and studied the phenomenon's global nature. Keyhoe called the establishment of the committee "the most significant development in the history of UFO investigation." The study of UFOs, he said, is now in the hands of civilian scientists "where it belongs." NICAP also felt vindicated in its policies of pushing for con­ gressional hearings and trying to end Air Force secrecy. Key­ hoe said NICAP would refrain from criticizing the Air Force unless it "releases counter-to-fact explanations" of sightings or "false information," and NICAP would help by giving the committee all "significant evidence. "35 Not everyone was satisfied, however. Columnist Don Mac­ lean charged, in a New Jersey newspaper, that the govern­ ment was spending money to "check up" on another branch of the government-making the Condon committee "the most insulting thing that has happened to one of our armed serv­ ices in some time." Hollywood columnist Austin Connor sug­ gested that the government was cheating the taxpayers : the Air Force, for legitimate reasons, would not give the commit­ tee all its classified files, and therefore nothing would come of the UFO study. An editorial in the Nation, which publicly had backed Condon's unsuccessful campaign for regent, said if Condon did not come up with anything other than "little green men, " the UFO enthusiasts would crucify him ; yet it hoped the study could provide some useful results, such as in­ sight about why people "must look to beings from beyond the

I

1j i"

, ·

·! 1

1

.

I Ij '


The Turning Point in the Controversy

1 87

earth as the only hope for escape from the tensions, dangers and boredom of modem life ." B6 Robert Low, the project coordinator, also had reservations. He was troubled because the study did not fulfill the three criteria for acceptable research projects : teaching, research, and public service. But, he added, the University of Colorado was the only institution that the Air Force asked to take the study, and ''when you're asked to do something (as opposed to applying for it ) you don't say no--n ot to the Air Force." Besides, he said, by examining people who reported UFOs, the study could uncover some new knowledge in the be足 havioral sciences. a7 Soon after the committee's establishment, Condon started making statements- that, at least to Keyhoe and others, seemed inconsistent with Condon's supposed impartiality and open-mindedness. The day after his appointment he informed a reporter for the Denver Rocky Mountain News that there was "just no evidence that there is advanced life on other planets," and he did not think flying saucers had visited the earth : "I haven't seen any convincing evidence. It is possible I suppose-but improbable. I would need a lot of convinc足 ing." Condon thought the Air Force had been doing a good job of handling UFO reports. a s The next day he explained that the committee would do more than conduct field interviews with UFO witnesses; it would experiment with swamp gas and similar phenomena as well, to give the public a "better understanding of ordinary phenomena, which, if recognized at once, would reduce the number of UFO reports." He suggested that this educational program could be accomplished through news media and school science classes. A few days later, Condon wrote to the Denver Post explaining that the UFO project could make "valuable contributions to knowledge of atmospheric effects and of people's behavior observing them under unusual con足 ditions." Because "well-known natural phenomena" caused the great majority of UFO reports, this "clearly indicates an appalling lack of public understanding of such phenomena [and] this calls for improved teaching about these things."39 On October 30, R. Roger Harkins, reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera, quoted Condon as saying the committee would use social psychologists to study large groups of people and their reactions to "unusual stimuli," which included the field of "rumor phenomena, as exemplified by the hysterical popular reaction to H. G. Welles' [sic] radio program, 'War


188

The UFO Controversy in A merica

of the Worlds,' in the late 1 9 3 0's." In a m id N ove mber inter­ view with a reporter from the New York Times, he admitted that he did not expect to find visitors from outer space, "but I'm not against it. . . . After all that would be the discovery of a century-the discovery of many centurie s--of the millen­ nia, I suppos e. In a speech b efore the Coming Section of the American Ch emi cal S o cie ty o n J anuary 25, 1 967, Condon confessed : "It is my inclin atio n right now to recommend that the government get out of thi s business. My attitude right now is that there's nothing to it. " He added that "it would be a worthwhile study for those groups interes ted in m e teorol og­ ical phenomena. " Condon seemed to be headed toward studying only two facets of the UFO problem : misinterpreta­ tions of natural p he nom e na, and the psych ologic al bases for UfO repo rts . 40 Having decided to place the study of UFOs in a university, the Air Force thought this was th e right time to proceed with its 1 959 plan to transfer the UFO program out of the intelli­ gence community. In June 1 966 General James Ferguson, now deputy chief of staff for research and development, as­ sumed prim ary r espons i bili ty for the UFO program. This move put Blue Book in the Air Force's scientific community, under the F ore ign Technology Division of the Air Force Sys­ tems Command. The Air Force changed AFR 200-2 to AFR 80- 1 7 (the 200 series refers to intelligence and the 80 series to miscellaneous ) , thereby formalizing the new arrangem ent and also allowing Blue Book to send UFO cases directly to the Condon committee. 4 1 -

"

At this same time, 1 966 to i 9 67, the public debate on UFOs became more serious than it had been before, for it in­ creasingly involved professional people. John Fuller was par­ tially responsible for this. His articles in Saturday Review and Look contributed to wide sp read public interest in UFOs, and his book, Incident at Exeter, was sober, well written well researched, and n ons e nsational . Because of Fuller's national rep u tati on and because he was not affili ated with any p rivate UFO organizations, many people wh o p re vio usly had not been involved in the UFO debate expressed a favo rab le reac­ t i o n to the b ook and its subject matter. For instance, Oscar Handlin, p rofe s s or o f hi sto ry at Harvard, in a review in the A tlantic Monthly, summed up the growing serious attitude toward UFOs. The answer to the UFO enigma was "not now knowable," he said. Ey ewitn es s testimony, the human eye being fallible, was inconclusive ; yet because very little else ex,


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isted t o corroborate eyewitness testimony, "the confession of ignorance is the safest policy. " Handlin attacked the Air Force for its "unwillingness . . . to concede that anything is unknown" and for its "bland public relations assurances,'' which had "heightened popular anxiety." Although scientists disliked admitting the limits of their knowledge, Handlin said, "there is . . . nothing inherently implausible about extraterres­ trial visitors." Intelligent life probably existed elsewhere in the universe and it might "be much more advanced than that on earth. " Therefore, "to dismiss out of hand the evidence for UFOs will not quiet the fears that we may be living through the first stages of exploration from elsewhere."42 John Fuller's work in the UFO field provoked enough in­ terest at Saturday Review for science editor John Lear to write a series of articles ab out the Robertson panel and the CIA's involvement with it. The Air Force let Lear look through its UFO files, except for the classified and uncen­ sored version of the 1 95 3 Robertson panel report. It gave him an edited version instead, leaving out the participants' names and the key recommendation that national security agencies should embark on a public education program to explain the dangers of reporting UFOs. The fact that the CIA had edited the document disturbed Lear. He compared the edited version with Ruppelt's 1 95 6 version, and since Lear had no way of knowing what the CIA had deleted, he stated that a doubt would always remain about what the CIA had found as long as the Robertson panel report remained cen­ sored. Concern over the exact contents of the Robertson report became more intense when Dr. James E. McDonald, a senior atmospheric physicist at the University of Arizona's Depart­ ment of Atmospheric Sciences, accidentally saw the classified version of the report at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. McDonald had been interested in the UFO phenomenon pri­ vately for the last ten years, and the 1 9 65 sighting wave strengthened his growing conviction that the phenomenon had scientific importance and that the extraterrestrial hypothesis might be the answer to the mystery. By 1 9 6 6 he emerged as one of the nation's leading scientific authorities on UFOs and embarked on a national speaking tour to explain his views. After seeing the classified version of the Robertson report, McDonald placed the blame for the Air Force's secrecy poli­ cies on the CIA, and he resolved to make this information public. Speaking before members of the University of Ari-


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zona's Department of Meteorology, McDonald claimed that the CIA bad ordered the Air Force to debunk UFOs, as seen in the unedited version of the Robertson report. The national news services picked up this story and publicized it widely on the same day that the Air Force announced the establishment of the Condon committee. 43 Many professional people who became interested in the UFO phenomenon were scientists. Dr. Frank Salisbury, head of the Plant Science Department at Utah State University, Dr. Leo Sprinkle, psychologist at the University of Wyoming, Stanton Friedm an, a nuclear physicist at Westinghouse As­ tronuclear Laboratories, Jacques Vallee, a computer expert at Northwestern University, and other scientists who had not been involved in the UFO controversy before now aligned themselves with the view that UFOs merited scientific study and that the extraterrestrial hypothesis might be valid. This new scientific interest probably was in part. due to the es­ tablishment of the Condon committee. Condon's prestige was so great that he helped legitimize the subject and made it easier for scientists to discuss the matter without fearing as much ridicule as they had before 1966 ( although ridicule still persisted ) . Condon's stature and Hynek's vigorous public statements about UFOs came together in October 1 966, when Science magazine ( the official organ of the American Associ­ ation for the Advancement of Science ) printed a letter Hy­ nek bad written in August 1 9 66. Science at first had refused to publish the letter but changed its policy and published it in abridged form after Condon agreed to take the UFO project.« Since the Lonnie Zamora sighting in 1 964, Hynek bad be­ come more determined in his request for a "respectable schol­ arly study of the UFO phenomenon." The swamp gas incident had pla�d him in a defensive position, and the result in 1 966 was a more liberal view toward UFOs. Hynek's letter to Science was his most forthright statement to date. His main purpose was to refute several common misconceptions ab out the phenomenon, Truly puzzling reports came not from UFO buffs, he s aid, but from people who had given little or no thought to the subject before a sighting. Although unreliable, unstable, or uneducated people did generate some UFO re­ ports, Hynek explained, "the most articulate reports come from obviously intelligent people." Moreover, the notion that scientifically trained people did not report UFOs was "un­ equivocably false," and, in fact, some of the best reports came


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from this group . Contrary to popular opinion, Hynek contin­ ued, people saw UFOs at close range and reported explicitly and in detail. 45 As for the Air Force statement that it had no evidence that UFOs were extraterrestrial or represented advanced technol­ ogy, Hynek s aid this was true but it "is widely interpreted to mean that there is evidence against the two hypotheses. As long as there are 'unidentifieds,' the question must obviously remain open." Hynek also countered the commonly held no­ tion that publicity generated UFO reports : while it was true that widely publicized reports m ight stimulate other reports, "it is unwarranted to assert that this is the sole cause of high incidence of UFO reports. " Finally, in answer to the charge that neither radar nor meteor and satellite tracking cameras had p icked up UFOs, Hynek said these instruments h ad indeed tracked "oddities" that remained unidentified. For these reasons, Hynek said, he could not "dismiss the UFO phenomenon with a shrug." Twentieth-century scientists tended to forget "that there will be a 2 1 st-century science, and indeed, a 3 0th-century science, from which vantage points our knowledge of the universe may appear quite differ­ ent. " He concluded that "we suffer, perhaps, from temporal provincialism, a form of arrogance that has always irritated posterity. "46 Hynek's letter was just one example of scientists speaking out about the phenomenon. Condon reported receiving many letters from scientists volunteering to help the committee and none ridiculing him p ersonally for accepting the project. Nev­ ertheless, some scientists with an urge to explain persisted in ridiculing UFOs and the people who reported seeing them. Dr. Edward Teller, on a nationwide broadcast of CBS's "Face the Nation," said UFOs were "miracles," and "the hu­ man soul needs a miracle" ; given a scientific age, "what is more proper than that the miracles should be scientific mira­ cles?" The celebrated British astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, on an American speaking tour, explained that people who re­ ported UFOs were "tremendous emotionalists" ; UFOs were nothing but natural phenomena and h oaxes, and the entire subject was " incredible nonsense. " Science fiction writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov displayed his l ack of knowledge about the subject by confusing what contactees reported and what reputable witnesses reported. He was convinced that "most flying saucer enthusiasts" believed "spaceship-crews are benevolent guardians of our welfare and anxious to keep us


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from destroying ourselves in nuclear warfare." According to Asimov, people who believed in the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs were "clinging to a fantasy."47 Other scientists skeptical about the subject at least offered arguments based on some knowledge of UFOs and related fields. Philip Klass, avionics editor of A viation Week and Space Technology, added a new dimension to the scientific inquiry into the nature of the phenomenon when he proposed that b all lightning or plasmas caused UFOs. He expanded his theories into a book, UFOs-ldentified. Basically Klass be­ lieved virtually all UFO sightings were due to coronal dis­ charges-the result of free floating packets of charged air that a lighting bolt had ignited ; this phenomenon occurs most often near high-voltage power lines. Klass forqmlated his the­ ory after reading Incident at Exeter, in which many of the witnesses told of seeing UFOs near high-tension wires. Klass was convinced that he had found the solution to the UFO mystery: plasmas could cause automobile engine failure, ap­ pear luminous, hover, and create radar echoes.4S Many magazines and newspapers featured articles about the plasma idea. While admitting that plasmas might account for a few UFO reports, most UFO researchers, including Hy­ nek, McDonald, Richard Hall of NICAP, and some electrical engineers, discounted the Klass theory as a solution because it did not explain the majority of UFO sightings. Because plas­ mas existed at most for a few seconds only near high-tension lines in a severe thunderstorm with lightning, the researchers said, the theory failed to account for sightings not in the area of high-power lines, that occurred in fair weather, and that lasted longer than a few seconds.49 Marquette University Professor of Physics William Markowitz found his own explanation of the mystery by studying how the objects moved. In a 1 967 article of Science, "The Physics and Metaphysics of Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects," Markowitz discussed the idea that reported UFO maneuvers did not obey the "elemental laws of celestial mechanics and physics. " He constructed a theoretical model, based on known laws, of the physics of interstellar space travel, giving special attention to takeoffs and landings. Re­ ports of UFO takeoffs and landings did not conform with this model, he discovered, and therefore extraterrestrial space ve­ hicles did not account for the phenomenon. Markowitz con­ cluded by stating that he had now investigated UFOs, and be­ cause he had seen no valid reports of occupant sightings and


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no crashed UFOs had turned up, he doubted extraterrestrial visitation. Furthermore, because the data on extraterrestrial visitation was so meager, people should not waste time study­ ing it and the Air Force should terminate its investigation ac­ tivities. He had mentioned this prospect to Quintanilla, Markowitz said, and the major "raised no objections."50 This article provoked a lively response from the readers of Science. Richard J. Rosa, of the Avco Everett Research Lab­ oratory, agreed with Markowitz's conclusion but found the argument "irrelevant" ; although interstellar travel was impos­ sible for our society now, Rosa wrote, Markowitz's arguments "in no way prove or imply that it is beyond someone else's­ or . . . what we will have 1 00 years from now." William T. Powers, a friend of Hynek from Northwestern University's Dearborn Observatory, said Markowitz's argument "bears no relationship to the contents of UFO reports"; all his foolish model for space flight proved was that "his own design does not explain reports of takeoffs or landings. " Furthermore, Powers stated, "the contrast between the notion of an ad­ vanced civilization's mode of transport ( as one may legitimate­ ly attempt to imagine it ) and Markowitz's sketchy design for a starship is ludicrous. " Jacques Vallee, one of Hynek's col­ leagues at Northwestern and the author of two books on UFOs, charged that Markowitz deliberately selected "border­ line cases in an effort to cast doubt on the validity of current official and private attempts at data-gathering." Furthermore, Vallee insisted, being concerned with only one idea (the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis ) , as Markowitz was, meant one had to "abandon entirely the rational process upon which science is based." The argument, Vallee concluded, was "grossly irra­ tional. "51 Although the scientific debate focused, in large part, on finding answers for or alternatives to the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis, some scientists took a middle-of-the-road position. Dr. Carl Sagan was representative of this view. Sagan was an astronomy professor at Cornell University and also had been a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book (the O'Brien committee ) . He believed, on the one hand, in the possibility that extraterrestrial visitors had jour­ neyed to earth in prehistoric times. Although highly unlikely and seemingly fantastic, this possib ility definitely existed, he said, and scientists should examine closely ancient myths and legends for possible extraterrestrial contact. On the other hand, Sagan thought the prospect of extraterrestrial visitation


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to contemporary civilization was dim. Scientists had obtained no photographs of UFOs as they had of meteors, he argued, and the majority of sightings were actually common astro­ nomical objects or atmospheric phenomena. Although "no unambiguous evidence" for even simple forms of extraterres­ trial life existed, Sagan said, "the situation m ay change in the coming years." Therefore, Sagan warned scientists who had "a tendency to reject out of hand the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence as baseless, improbable or unscientific" to avoid this danger.ll2 Hynek, too, publicly placed himself in this camp. He nei­ ther denied nor supported any theory; rather, he spent much of 1 96 6 and 1967 calling for increased scientific scrutiny of the UFO problem because "no truly scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon has ever been undertaken." Much of this Hynek did through the medi a : the letter in Science in October 1 966, an article about the Air Force study and his involvement in it in the Saturday Evening Post in December 1 9 66, a full-page interview with Hynek in the Christian Science Monitor in May 1 967, and an article in Playboy in December 1 967 discussing the inadequacies of the Air Force program. In the latter, Hynek outlined the dangers of the So­ viets deciphering the UFO mystery before the Americans · could and recommended increased study to avoid a "UFO gap." If the United States could do this, wrote Hynek, "Man­ kind may be in for the greatest adventure since dawning human intelligence turned outward to contemplate the universe. "53 If Sagan and Hynek spoke for the middle position, Dr. James McDonald certainly was the advocate for the extrater­ restrial position. Unafraid of ridicule, McDonald was an ex­ tremely intense and energetic individual whose research into UFOs had far outstripped all other researchers save Hynek. In March 1966 McDonald had succeeded in obtaining the National Academy of Science's approval for a discreet, one­ man study of UFOs. But when McDonald heard of the Air Force plans to contract a UFO study to a university, he de­ clined to use N.A.S.'s support. McDonald used his own money for UFO investigation, and he meticulously investigated scores of sightings and personally interviewed hundreds of witnesses. He concluded that "the extraterrestrial hypothesis [was] the only presently plausible explanation for the now-available facts."IS4 Armed with this idea and with the perhaps naive but un-

·

\


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shaken faith that scientists, once alerted to the depth and enormity of the UFO data, would be swayed by logic and reason, McDonald launched a crusade to alert the scientific community to the seriousness of the problem. Over the next few years he wrote thousands of letters about the UFO prob­ lem to scientists, UFO researchers, military personnel, and private citizens. He stumped the country giving innumerable lectures, speeches, talks, and private discussions. His method of argumentation was to overwhelm listeners with a wealth of exhaustively documented and detailed UFO reports. He per­ sonally investigated all the reports he used, and he uncovered some of the best substantiated and strongest cases known. McDonald also did original research on many of the classic cases, such as the Mantell, Chiles and Whitted, Washington, · D.C. and Zamora sights. He printed his lectures and dis­ tributed them to anyone interested. McDonald rushed into the fray with Menzel and Klass. Since his field was atmospheric physics, he was best equipped to counter Menzel's and Klass's arguments that most UFOs resulted from unusual atmospheric conditions. McDonald worked intensively on Menzel's books and painstakingly showed the implausibility of Menzel's theories. Phil Klass presented easier pickings. After demonstrating the weaknesses of Klass's ideas, McDonald remarked : "Klass dismissed." McDonald's drive, tireless energy, keen intelligence, and re­ markable productivity made him a major force in the UFO controversy. McDonald also took on the Air Force. He vigorously at­ tacked it for its lack of scientific investigation and its pro­ nouncements designed to soothe the public. He attacked the CIA for its involvement in the Robertson panel report. While not subscribing to Keyhoe's conspiracy ideas, McDonald did believe the Air Force had been involved in a "grand foulup" because of the "limited scientific competence" of the person­ nel attached to the UFO project. sr; The Air Force feared McDonald. It saw him as a major threat to its public relations efforts. When the American Soci­ ety of Newspaper Editors asked the Air Force to allow Quin­ tanilla to join McDonald and others in a symposium on UFOs, the Air Force Office of Information (SAFOI ) thought long and hard about subjecting Quintanilla to McDonald's at­ tacks. SAFOI decided to let Quintanilla appear, but he would have to be "brainwashed thoroughly" beforehand. "Two colonels with 30 years' experience in the information business


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will be holding his hands. They will work him over-ask him every leading dirty question he might get. He will be ready for them." Besides that, Klass would be on the panel, and since he was eager to promote his book and debate with McDonald, Quintanill a would be able to sit back and listen.56 McDonald's contacts with the scientific community also worried the Air Force. When McDonald wrote to the Air Force Office of Aerospace Research telling it that he would be in Washington and wanted to discuss the UFO situation with the staff, SAFOI knew that the Office of Aerospace Research would not be receptive but that "they dare not turn him down." The Air Force, as SAFOI put it, wanted to "fire­ proof'' McDonald. liT McDonald's civilian adversaries, particularly Phil Klass, also wanted to fireproof him. Klass, who was rapidly becom­ ing the new leader of the anti-UFO forces, engaged in a pro­ tracted battle of attrition with McDonald. He printed and distributed detailed critiques of McDonald's speeches and statements. McDonald charged that Klass had told the Office of Naval Research that McDonald used navy funds on a trip to Australia to study UFOs. This caused a minor scandal and the navy sent an auditor to look at McDonald's contract. The navy found nothing irregular, but the resulting pressure from the university administration caused McDonald some embar­ rassment. The McDonald-Klass struggle continued until McDonald's death.58 In addition to his fight with Klass, McDonald also had a simm ering feud with Hynek. It started in early June 1 966 when McDonald visited Project Blue Book at Wright-Patter­ son Air Force Base. Quintanilla allowed him to examine some case reports. McDonald was astonished. The sighting reports he saw confirmed his suspicions. The Air Force was holding an enormous quantity of impressive reports, and Hy­ nek had said nothing about them to the scientific community. He went directly from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to Northwestern University and Hynek's office. He pounded on Hynek's desk and asked, "How could you sit on this informa­ tion for so many years without altering the scientific commu­ nity?" Hynek later said this incident was "like a breath of fresh air," for here at l ast was a reputable scientist who was not afraid to say UFOs deserved scientific study.159 But McDonald was not through with Hynek yet. McDon­ ald believed Hynek had committed an unpardonable scientific sin-he had been scientifically dishonest Hynek had a key


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and unique role in being the only scientist working on UFOs. Hynek had known of the strong evidence of the possi­ bility of extraterrestrial visitation but had remained quiet. He had known of the Air Force's inadequate ' investigatory methods but had gone along with them in the crucial early years. McDonald thought Hynek was as bad as, if not worse than, Menzel. In fact, McDonald characterized Hynek as "the original Menzel" and saw Hynek's later open-minded stand toward the UFO mystery as a self-serving way to as­ suage his guilt. Although in later years Hynek and McDonald were cordial to each other and appeared on forums together, McDonald never trusted Hynek and never forgave him.60 McDonald and Hynek did work together, to a certain ex­ tent, to interest the scientific community in UFOs. As a result of their urgings, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA ) decided to convene a panel of scientists for an unbiased discussion of the UFO problem. Joachim P. Kuettner of the Environmental Research Laboratories in Boulder, Colorado, chaired the eleven-member panel, which hoped to reach some conclusions before 1 969. 61 Clearly, the events from 1 965 to 1 9 67 opened wider the door to scientific inquiry than ever before. The events of 1 9 65 to 1 967 increased not only scientists' interest in UFOs but public interest in the various UFO or­ ganizations and clubs as well. The private UFO groups en­ joyed increased memberships. Peter Bail in the New York Times reported that membership in UFO organizations was "soaring" and that "predictably the number of sightings of 'saucers' seemed to be growing apace." He reported that NI­ CAP had doubled its membership to 1 1 ,000 and that the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America (the Califor­ nia-based contactee group) claimed 3,700 members. George Van Tassel's contactee convention at Giant Rock, California, drew crowds of at least 2,000-more than double what it had drawn in previous years. Hector Quintanilla's analysis of this new interest in UFOs was that it was due to an "upsurge in magazine stories and television shows devoted to the topic. " 62

Although Quintanilla's reason for the increase in UFO re­ ports might be dubious, it was true that more peoplct were writing more books on the subject. From 1 9 6 6 to 1 968 over two dozen books on UFOs were published. Frank Edwards, Keyhoe's old friend, led the way in 1 9 6 6 with his best-selling Flying Saucers-Serious Business, an amalgam of sighting tales, history, and a large dose of speculation. Edwards's


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research was shoddy at best, but his book rivaled Keyhoe's books for sheer volume of sales. Edwards followed the next year with Flying Saucers-Here and Now/, which gave the reader more of the same. 63 John Fuller's The Interrupted Journey told the story of the Barney and Betty Hill case, which involved an extremely credible and reliable interracial couple who claimed that ex­ traterrestrials abducted them, took them aboard a UFO , gave them physical examinations, and then released them. Ordinar­ ily UFO researchers would shy away from a case like this, but it bore no resemblance to contactee stories and the Hills had circumstantial evidence to bolster the credibility of their claim. Excerpted in Look magazine, the book was an instant success.M . Jim and Coral Lorenzen's 1 962 The Great Flying Saucer · Hoax, a comprehensive exposition of the worldwide UFO phenomenon coupled with their ideas on Air Force secrecy, came out in paperback in 1 9 6 6 under the title Flying Saucers: The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space. It too was popular and underwent numerous print­ ings. They followed that with UFOs Over the A mericas, which concentrated on recent sightings in the Western Hemi­ sphere, Flying Saucer - Occupants, the first book to treat re­ ports of occupants seriously, and UFOs: Th e Whole Story, which outlined UFO sightings, the government's secrecy poli­ cies, and brought the history up to the Condon committee. 6 5 Jacques Vallee, a mathematician and computer expert from Northwestern University, published two books on UFOs in 1 965 and 1 9 66, A natomy of a Phenomenon and Challenge to Science. Both of these well-reasoned and scientifically based books attempted to give a scholarly basis for studying UFO reports. Vallee discussed the reports statistically, analyt­ ically, and categorically. His scientific training made these books the most solid scientific works on the UFO phenome­ non during this period. 6 6 Numerous other books that tried to capitalize on the cur­ rent high level of interest also appeared in book stores. These works ranged from naked exploitation, like reprinted con­ tactee books, to the standard potboiler. They all sold well as public interest seemed insatiable in light o f the tremendous number of sightings during these years. The Air Force received nearly three thousand sighting re­ ports from 1 965 through 1 967. Public interest in them and massive publicity had finally forced a congressional hearing


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on UFOs which, in tum, compelled the Air Force to look for outside aid in dealing with the UFO problem. Finding the University of Colorado and especially Edward U. Condon to direct the civilian study allowed the Air Force to get rid of the UFO problem at least for a while. Condon's prestige also made UFOs a more legitimate area of study for some mem足 bers of the scientific community. The spokesmen for the pri足 vate UFO groups seemed less vocal ; prominent professional people, such as Hynek and McDonald, more vocal; and many previously hostile sectors of the society began to treat the subject seriously. Although hostility still prevailed, a growing number of scientists took a closer look at the UFO phenomenon during these years and independently concluded that the topic had scientific merit. As the UFO debate moved away from in-group and public relations haggling and toward the scientific com足 munity, the Condon committee's work became, necessarily, the focal point of attention. Many scientists as well as UFO proponents adopted a wait-and-see attitude before judging the work of this first university-based scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon. The Condon committee assumed paramount importance, and, eventually, most concerned cit足 izens and scientists looked to it to give them the answer to the problem.


9

THE CONDON COM M ITTEE

AND

ITS A FTERMA TH

The establishment of the Condon committee was the culmi­ nation of years of pressure from Keyhoe, Hynek, private UFO groups, Congress, and the news media. Because the committee had a university rather than a military base, be­ cause its members were trained in the physical and social sciences, and because its purpose was a long-term and in-depth study of the UFO phenomenon, it assumed extraordinary importance for people on all sides of the UFO contro­ versy. But the committee fell prey to internal division, meth­ odological disputes, and personality clashes, and it did not resolve or clarify most of the issues surrounding the UFO controversy. In fact, its final report raised more questions than it answered. Although the Condon committee success­ fully helped the Air Force eliminate its UFO problem, the committee failed to add substantially to knowledge about the phenomenon. The Condon committee began its work in October 1 966 with optimism on all sides. Even though no one connected with the project had any prior experience in the field, the staff of twelve-inch.iding psychologists David Saunders and Stuart Cook, chemist Roy Craig, astronomer Franklin Roach, and project coordinator Robert Low-formulated workable plans to attack the UFO problem on many fronts. The staff planned to keep a case book of the best available sightings, and Saunders was to study them statistically. The staff com­ piled a library containing most of the important works on the subject. It planned to create investigation teams to study sightings as soon as they occurred. Psychologist William Scott began work on a standard questionnaire to gather informa- ' tion about sightings and their witnesses. Condon hired outside consultants to write reports about physical phenomena, such as ball lightning and plasmas, associated with UFO sightings.

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201

To orient project members ab out problems in UFO research, the staff brought in Hynek, Jacques Vallee, Quintanill a, Key­ hoe, and NICAP assistant director Richard Hall . l Trouble developed almost as soon as the first rush of op­ timism faded. David Saunders outlined the problems in a 1 9 6 8 book about the Condon committee's early problems. According to Saunders, one of the first disagreements was over Scott's questionn aire : of its twenty-one pages, only one covered items about the sighting itself; the remaining twenty pages asked questions about the psychological reactions of the witnesses. Some staff members objected to this method, a dis­ pute ensued, and Scott resigned. A second problem centered on project coordinator Robert Low who, Saunders said, seemed insensitive to the project members' work. He preoccu­ pied himself with adding reports to his case book. Saunders later charged that Low improperly screened and analyzed these cases and they only increased the projected length of the final report. In August 1 967 Low went to Europe for a month's stay to represent the committee at the International Astronomical Union in Prague. The staff thought this would be an excellent opportunity for Low to meet with two of Eu­ rope's lead ing UFO researchers, Charles Bowen of England and Aime Michel of France. Low, however, decided not to visit Bowen and Michel and went instead to Loeb Ness be­ cause, be said, although although neither UFOs nor the mon­ ster existed, it was important to compare the two phenome­ na.2 A third source of irri tation was Condon's attitudes. Early in the project, on January 2 5 , 1 9 67, in his speech before the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society, be said that the government should get out of the UFO "business" and that the UFO phenomenon had nothing to it. Saunders explained that not only did the speech upset and puzzle some project staff members but it almost caused a break with NI­ CAP. The Condon committee needed APRO's and NICAP's help, both of which bad agreed to supply it with good sight­ ing reports. The Air Force was inefficient ; Blue Book person­ nel had misfiled and misplaced many reports, and air base officers sent reports slowly and contributed many of poor quality. Saunders, who joined NICAP to keep up with current sightings when the university accepted the UFO project, found that NICAP reports were of a higher quality than those of the Air Force. Many NICAP members thought Con­ d on s speech at Corning proved both his bias and the Air '


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Force's influence, and they put pressure on Keyhoe to with­ draw support. Under Saunder's urging and wi th much reluc­ tance, Condon wrote to Keyhoe explaining that the press h ad misquoted what he said and he managed to head off a serious problem with NICAP. s But Condon still h ad problems concealing his negative atti­ tude toward UFOs . He showed a distinct partiality to contact­ ee-like claims--cl aims that serious UFO investigators viewed as hoaxes. Not only did these stories provide Condon with ex­ cellent after-dinner anecdotes, but they occupied an unusually large portion of his project efforts as well . Of the four of five cases he personally investigated , all were either hoaxes or had contactee overtones. In addition, he made a special trip to New York City in June 1 9 67 to appear at a meeting of the contactee-oriented Congress of Scientific Ufologists where Howard Menger was the guest speaker. Condon took a bow in the audience. The project staff was not happy with this be­ havior:4 A maj or source of conflict, beginnin g as early as January 1 9 67, surrounded the validity of the extraterrestrial hypothe­ sis. Saunders rapidly emerged as the ch ampion of the idea that the committee should consider the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis equally with other theories. Psychologist Michael Wertheimer and Low took the position that the extraterrestrial hypothesis was not only unprovable but probably absurd as well. A dispute over this point ensued between Saunders and Low and Wertheimer; as a result, Wertheimer lost interest in the project and. p articipated only minimally. But Low and Saunders continued at odds over the issue, and in March 1967 Low wrote a position paper in which he called the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis nonsense.5 He maintained this atti­ tude until the end of the project. The disagreement over the extraterrestrial hypothesis indi­ cated deeper d isputes within the committee. One concerned the committee's policy of releasing no information to the press before completing the final report. Condon and Low had instituted this policy, the one exception being any public remarks Condon might make, but Saunders disagreed with it. The policy seemed to bear directly on the committee's scien­ tific intent. Saunders hoped and perhaps assumed that the staff would find at least several solid cases to support the recommendation for continued scientific study of UFOs ; he had found some sightings he thought were solid, one being the 1 950 Nicholas Mariana film. &


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For Saunders, recommending continued study implied that UFOs were a unique phenomenon and that the extraterres­ trial hypothesis might have merit. Therefore, he reasoned, the committee should release selected information to the public to soften the shock of this kind of recommendation. But Con­ don, also assuming that a "positive" report would mean that the extraterrestrial hypothesis had merit, refused to change the policy; if a p ositive final report seemed likely, he ex­ plained, he would not release the information to the press but would take it personally to the president of the United States. Saunders interpreted this statement to mean that no matter what the staff found the final report would be negative, that the report would not recommend continued study because the idea that UFOs represented an anomalous phenomenon of · possible extraterrestrial origin had no validity.7 While this dispute simmered beneath the surface, a second issue emerged that unquestionably became the project's most dramatic by-product-the release of the so-called Low memorandum. In August 1 966, as people at the University of Colorado tried to decide whether to accept the UFO project, Low wrote a memorandum to the university's administrators explaining his views. In it he dealt with the question of what could be the final result of the study. s The memorandum, ambiguously and loosely worded, expressed the basic premise that UFOs were not a unique phenomenon, that they had no physical reality and were not extraterrestrial. But, Low stated, even though the staff would be composed of "nonbelievers," it was practically impossible to prove these negative propositions. Yet the staff could col­ lect an impressive body of evidence to bolster these common­ sense negative assumptions. Such bolstering, Low cautioned, might involve a public relations dilemma in which "the trick would be to describe the project so that, to the public, it would appear a totally objective study but, to the scientific community, would present the image of a group of nonbeliev­ ers trying their best to be objective but having an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer." Low decided that the best way to accomplish this dual objective would be to stress the investigation of "the psychology and sociology of persons and groups who report seeing UFOs." By placing emphasis on the witnesses, Low said, "rather than on examination of the old question of the physical reality of the saucer, I think the scientific community would quickly get the message."9 The Low memorandum found its way to a file marked


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"AF Contract and Background," where it sat, as Saunders said, "ticking away like a time bomb" until July 1967, when staff member Roy Craig discovered it. Puzzled over its con­ tents, Craig showed it to coworker Norman Levine, who showed it to Saunders. Saunders then showed the memoran­ dum to Keyhoe because he wanted to be open with NICAP. He wanted Keyhoe to know about Low's apparent bias, but he also wanted Keyhoe's continued cooperation with the proj­ ect so that Saunders would have data to write a minority re­ port. Keyhoe, in turn, told James McDonald about the memorandum. Later McDonald received a copy of it. All this went on without Low's knowledge. 1o

No one brought up the memorandum until February

1968, when McDonald wrote a seven-page letter to Low criti­ cizing the project's methodology and expressing concern over the negative conclusion to which the project seemed headed. In the letter McDonald mentioned the memorandum, quoting the section about "the trick would be Low became ex­ ceptionally upset and showed Condon McDonald's letter. Condon, who had not known about the memorandum until this time, was outraged. He accused Saunders and Levine of stealing the letter from Low's personal files and releasing it to McDonald; Condon told Saunders he ought to be "profes­ sionally ruined" for leaking the memorandum. The next day Condon fired Saunders and Levine. Their dismissal brought other staff problems to the fore. Condon's administrative as­ sistant, Mary Lou Armstrong, resigned, citing "an almost unanimous 'lack of confidence' " in Low's ability to direct the project. She also accused Low of misrepresenting the majority of the senior staff's opinion that the UFO phenomenon deserved further scientific study.n The Low memorandum and Condon's handling of it re­ flected the philosophical divisions in the project and the con­ flicts between staff members. Condon was unable to maintain a continuous project staff; out of the original twelve, only Low and two other full-time staff members remained with the project for its duration. 1 2 Much of the personal conflict was based on the philosophical issue of what assumption to make in investigating cases. Neither of the two groups involved saw the primary focus as being to determine whether UFOs con­ stituted an anomalous phenomenon. Instead, one group, with Saunders as spokesman, thought the committee should con­ sider the extraterrestrial hypothesis and other theories about the origin of UFOs; this group wanted to look at as much of .

.

."

1


I

The Condon Committee and Its A ftermath

205

the data as possible. The other group, with Low as spokes­ man, thought the extraterrestrial theory was nonsense and be­ lieved the solution to the UFO mystery was to be found in the psychological m akeup of the witnesses. The main conflict was over whether UFOs were an extraterrestrial phenomenon rather than whether they constituted a unique aerial phenom­ enon. Perhaps the reason the two groups focused on the efficacy of the extraterrestrial hypothesis as a measure of the objects' reality was that none of the project staff had any experience in investigating UFO reports. Even though Condon asked Hynek, Keyhoe, and Jacques Val l e e at the beginning to brief the project staff on problems in UFO research, he did not use these men as consultants for the project's methodology. Therefore, its methodological problems led the staff members to tangential concerns. Disclosure of the Low memorandum became the central event in the Condon committee's stormy history. Journ alist John Fuller found out about the firings soon after they oc­ curred and in May 1968 wrote an article, "Flying Sau cer Fi­ asco," for Look magazine. Fuller discussed the d ivisions in the project, Condon's seeming preoccupation with contactees, th e Low memorandum, McDonald's letter to Low, the firing of Saunders and Levine, and Mary Lou Armstrong's subse­ quent resignation. To Fuller these events meant that "the hope that the establishment of the Colorado study brought with it has dimmed. All that seems to be left is the $500,000 trick." Condon sent a telegram to Look charging that the Fuller article contained "falsehoods, and misrepresentations" but not specifying what they were. The Denver Post quoted Mary Lou Armstrong as s aying the article was accurate.1a In addition to the article, Look printed a short piece Key­ hoe had written to say that NICAP h ad withdrawn its sup­ port from the Condon committee. NICAP had been wavering about continuing its support even before the Low disclosure. Although Saunders encouraged Keyhoe to withhold judg­ ment, Keyhoe knew about the project's difficulties and be­ came increasingly wary of its objectivity. The dismissals con­

vinced him that his fears were justified ; he could see the direction the project was taking and wanted no part of it. (He actually had withdrawn support before the Look article but made his decision public in the magazine . ) APRO, claim­ ing that NICAP h ad tried to influence the committee through


206

The UFO Controversy in A merica

Saunders, decided to co ntinu e to give si gh ting reports to the committee and not to prejudge the study.t4 Fuller's articl e had far-reaching effects. Technical and pro­ fessional journ als carried the story and opened a forum for d eb ate . In an interview with Scientific Research, Saunders and Levine said they planned a libel suit against Condon an d attacked him for an " 'unscientific' approach" to the study. In reply, Condon said calling him u ns c ient ific was grounds for libel, and one factor in di smiss ing Saunders and Levine was that they gave "outsiders" m aterial from "personal" files. Un­ til the final report became available to the public in the fall of 1 9 68, Condon s aid , "fair-minded people will reserve judg­ ment. " Industrial Research printed excerpts from the "stolen" Low memorandum, as Condon called it, and a statement from Th om as Ratchford of the Air Force Offi ce of Scientific Research. He said it wo uld b e "inappropriate and premature" for the Air Force to comment on the matter until the Condon committee completed the fin al report. But, asserted Ratch­ ford, he believed Condon to be "outstandingly open-minded" and unbiased. According to Air Force Public Information Of­ ficer D avid Sh e a the Low memorandum caused a stir in the Air Force and S ecretary Brown organized a task force "to keep a close eye on the proj ec t. "15 Science magazine's news department wa s wo rking on an article about the project's problems, and Condon, a p ast president of AAAS , agreed to cooperate with the author in h ope s that this would be his counterattack to Fuller. But dur­ ing the preparation of the article, the expected public interest in the committee's problems did not m aterialize, and Condon, according to Science editor Daniel S. Greenberg, decided it was "inappropriate for Science to touch the matter, withdrew his offer of cooperation, and p roceeded to enunciate high­ sounding principl es in support of his new-found bel ief that Science should not touch the s ubj e ct until after publication of his report." When Greenberg reminded Condon that he had wanted the article and had offered complete cooperation, "Condon flatly refused to discuss the matter further." Science printed the piece anyway. Condo n became so angry that he resigned from AAAS . l& One of Condon's friends at the University of Colorado's ,

1oint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics criticized the mag azine for writing about the controversy : because the p u bl ic did not u nd erstand the workings of scientists, it tended to b ase its judgments on commentators' reactions to scientific ­


The Condon Committee and Its Aftermath

201

controversies ; the "tragedy" of the article was that "Science apparently fails to perceive that public acceptance of the ra­ tionality of science is at stake." Condon's colleague may have overstated his case. In spite of the debate the Fuller article created, the majority of people interested in UFO controversy seemed to agree with the Denver Post when it said that al­ though it would have liked Condon to answer Fuller's charges, "everyone [should] wait for the project report be·

fore passing judgment."17 Fuller's article even prompted reaction in Congress. Indi­ ana Congressman J. Edward Roush delivered a speech on the House floor saying the article raised "grave doubts as to the scientific profundity and objectivity of the proj ect." In an in­ terview with the . Denver Post, Roush cited the Low memorandum as evidence of the Air Force's influence in the project from the start. Roush, who had a prior interest in UFOs and with McDonald's urgings, recommended a new congressional investigation, took steps immediately to initiate such an investigation, and scheduled it for July 29, 1968 . 18 Under the auspices of the House Science and Astronautics Committee, this hearing was more encompassing and ambi­ tious than the one in 1 966. Conceived of as a symposium, the participants were Hynek, McDonald, astronomer Carl Sagan, sociologist Robert L. Hall, engineer James A. Harder, and as­ tronautics engineer Robert M. B aker. Menzel submitted a written statement, saying he was "amazed . . . that you [Roush] could plan so unbalanced a symposium, weighted by persons known to favor Government support of a continuing expensive and pointless investigation of UFOs without invit­ ing me, the leading exponent of opposing views and author of two major books on the subject." Psychologists Leo Sprinkle and Roger N. Shepard, nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, geophysicist Garry C. Henderson, and exobiologist Frank B . Salisbury also submitted prepared statements. The Science and Astronautics Committee set up symposium ground rules prohibiting any criticism of the Condon project or the Air Force, because the committee s aid, the House Armed Serv­ ices Committee was the appropriate place to criticize the Air Force or an Air Force sponsored project.19 Hynek spoke first. He recounted his involvement in the UFO controversy and his change of mind over the years. At first he believed that the subject was "rank nonsense, the product of silly seasons, and a peculiarly American craze that would run its course as all popular crazes do." But as he ex-


208

The UFO Controversy in A merica

amined more of the data over the years, be recounted, be re­ alized that there might indeed by "scientific paydirt" in the phenomenon. He had not alerted the scientific community to the seriousness of the problem before, he said, because scien­ tists had to be sure of their facts; be did not want to cry wolf unless he was reasonably sure there was a wolf. Now be was sure. 2o Hynek offered two reasons for why scientists had not shown interest in UFOs previously. First, he said, was the lack of bard-core data and a method for obtaining this data; the Air Force failed to uncover such data because it only wanted to determine whether UFOs threatened national se­ curity. The second reason, Hynek explained, was the contact­ ees and the sensational treatment of UFOs . in pulp maga­ zines. Hynek noted that the subject was so illegitimate for scientists that "there appears to be a scientific taboo on even the passive tabulation of UFO reports." It would be fool­ hardy for a scientist to present a paper on UFOs to the American Physical Society or to the American Astronomical Society-"the paper would be laughed down. "21 In contrast, Hynek noted, the recent 1 9 6 6-67 wave of sightings increased scientific interest, and all for the good. Scientists' misconceptions about the nature of UFO informa­ tion have been "so powerful and all-encompassing," he said, "that an amazing lethargy and apathy to investigation has prevailed . This apathy is unbecoming to the ideals of science and undermines public confidence." The new scientific inter­ est, Hynek explained, gave the impression that "we should ei­ ther fish or cut bait. " He wanted to fish and recommended establishing a "UFO Scientific Board of Inquiry properly funded, for the specific purpose of an investigation in depth of the UFO phenomenon." He also recommended using the United Nations for a free interchange of international sight­ ing reports and data. Due to continued reports of close en­ counters with "unexplainable craft" from sane, reputable people, Hynek said, he had to believe that either the reports had scientific value or world society contained people "who are articulate, sane, and reputable in all matters save UFO reports." Either way, the phenomenon deserved study. 22 The second speaker was McDonald. He began his testi­ mony by saying that even though scientists had been lax to investigate UFOs because of the ancedotal evidence involved, the UFO matter was of "extraordinary scientific importance." He outlined his own change in attitude about UFOs : he, too,


The Condon Committee and Its Aftermath

209

had placed l ittle credence in UFO reports at first, but his research during the past few years convinced him that the ex­ traterrestrial hyp othesis was capable of explaining the major­ ity of unexplained UFO reports whereas other hypotheses were not. For example, he had researched independently the 1 952 Washington, D . C . , sightings and found that the temper­ ature inversion theory was unte nable. UFOs were "entirely real," he said, and "we do not know what they are because we have l aughed them out o f court. " He supported Hynek's suggestion for an ongoing UFO study on a global scale and urged further House hearings to enable scientists to debate the issue.23 Former O'Brien committee member and Cornell Professor of Astronomy Dr. Ca rl Sagan testified third. Taking a skepti­ cal attitude toward UFOs being extraterrestrial, he confined his remarks to the possibil ities of extraterrestrial life and the problems of space travel. He thought extraterrestrial life probably existed elsewhere in the u niverse, although intelli­ gent life was most unlikely in our solar system ; yet interstel­ lar space travel, while encountering the d ifficulties of the time over great d istances, Sagan said, was not physically impos­ sible. 2• The fourth person to speak was Dr. Robert L. Hall, chair­ man of the Department of Sociology at the University of Ill i­ nois and the brother of NICAP assistant director Rich ard Hall. He examined the theory that "hysterical contagion" caused UFO reports and found it "highly improbable," for "hard-core" cases and "the weight of evidence is strongly against it. " Hall had discovered strong evidence that physical phenomena unde rlay a portion of the reports. To all eviate panic over UFOs, Hall said, the government should circulate freely all available information about the phenomenon and scientists should study carefully 1 00 to 200 cases per year for "recurring patterns, with emph asis on the way they react to their environment, the way they react to l ight sources, the way they react to presence of humans and so on." Hall "en­ thusiastical ly agreed with Hynek's suggestion of a Board of Inquiry. "25 Dr. James A. Harder, associate professor of civil engineer­ ing at the University of California and an APRO consultant, did not mince words : "On the basis of the data and ordinary rules of evidence, as would be applied in civil or criminal courts, the physical reality of UFO's h as been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. " The objects were "interplanetary" and


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

their propulsion was b ased on "an application of gravitational fields that we do not understan d . " As d i d the previous witness, Harder recommended a continued scientific investiga­ tion of UF0s.26 The last witness was Dr. Robert M. Baker, sen ior scientist with the Computer Sciences Corporation in southern Califor­ nia, editor of the Journal of Astronautical Sciences, and a former UCLA professor of astronomy and engineering. Baker had analyzed the Mariana and Newhouse films and had con­ cluded that the Mariana film exhibited anomalistic objects and the Newhouse film "most probably anomalistic objects." Addressing himself to why American sky photography proj­ ects, radar surveill ance systems, telescopes, and military de­ tection equipment had not provided many photographs of unidentified flying objects, he explained that the majority of astronomical equipment was specialized and "would probably not detect the anomalous luminous phenomena reported by the casual observer. " Only one American surveillance system had a "slight opportunity" to detect UFOs above the earth's atmosphere, B aker said. He had visited Air Defense Com­ mand headquarters and confirmed that since this equipment had been operative, "there have been a number of anoma­ listic alarms. Alarms that, as of this date, h ave not been ex­ plained on the basis of natural phenomena interference, equipment malfunction or inadequacy, or manmade space ob­ jects."27 B aker concluded : "We have not now, nor have we been in the past, able to achieve a complet e-o r even p artially com­

plete-surveillance of space in the vicinity of the earth, com­

prehensive enough

to

betray

the

presence

of or provide

quantitative inform ation on anomalistic phenomena." He rec­ ommended instituting a long-term, properly funded interdisci­ plinary, mobile scientific task force to study the surveillance problem and develop UFO sensing and tracking equ ipment. Baker also suggested a system of "listening posts" for possible extraterrestrial communication and stud ies to forecast techno­ logical and behavioral patterns of advanced extraterrestrial life.2s

Finally, a House committee staff member placed into the record the papers prepared by Menzel, Stanton Friedman, Frank Salisbury, Leo Sprinkle, Garry Henderson, and Roger Shepard . Menzel's paper included his familiar theories that UFOs were m irages, reflections, temperature inversions, and the like. In his p aper, Friedman criticized the positions of


The Condon Comm ittee and Its Aftermath

21 1

Menzel, Klass, and Markowitz and concluded that "the earth is being visited by intelligently controlled vehicles whose origin is extraterrestrial." Dr. Frank Salisbury's paper dis­ cussed the issue of noncontact and the danger of attributing human motivation to nonhuman intelligence : ''To inductively extrapolate from our own current sociological approaches to those of other intelligent entities would be to commit the logi­ cal sin of extrapolation in a most flagrant manner." In their papers, Dr. Leo Sprinkle (psychologist at the University of Wyoming) , Dr. Garry C. Henderson ( senior research scien­ tist for General Dynamics) , and Dr. Roger N. Shepard (psy­ chology professor at Stanford ) took issue with Menzel's theo­ ries and criticized him for not giving enough credit to human observations, perceptions, and witnesses' ability to reconstruct accurately what they saw.211 Thus ended the second congressional hearing on UFOs. Al­ though the House Science and Astronautics Committee pro­ hibited all participants from criticizing the Colorado project openly, the criticism was apparent nonetheless. Each witness recommended an ongoing systematic investigation of UFO's; none suggested or implied that the Condon project would settle the debate over UFOs or would add significantly to knowledge about the subject. The hearing-symposium made the strongest case to date for continued study of UFOs. It also represented growing academic interest in the subject : a few years before the 1 9 68 hearing Hynek was the only Amer­ ican scientist capable of discussing the UFO phenomenon knowledgeably and from a research basis, but at the time of the hearing at least twenty specialists in the physical and so­ cial sciences ( apart from the Condon committee ) were taking an active interest in the subject, and the number was growing. The 1 965-67 sighting wave helped create this new scholarly interest and the Condon committee's work helped legitimatize the subject. In 1 9 6 8 many academicians interested in UFOs joined APRO, which, with the help of Assistant Director Richard Greenwell, had launched an active recruitment pro­ gram to gain these consultants for its work.ao The July 1 968 House hearings came at the end of a peak period of sightings and of public interest in and press cover­ age of the phenomenon. Membership in the two national or­ ganizations had dropped as all interested groups waited for the Condon committee's final report, due in the fall of 1 968.31 After the firing of Saunders and Levine in February 1 968, press coverage of the Condon committee became virtually


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

nonexistent; Condon stopped making public speeches and very few people knew what was happening in the project. The only event to mar the quietude of this period was the publication of Saunders and Harkins's book, UFOs? Yes!, a blow-by-blow account of the early p roblems in the Colorado project. Saunders, sure that the Condon committee's final report would not recommend further systematic study, attempt­ ed in his book to prepare the public for this and to raise the issue of the committee's objectivity. Saunders and Levine hoped the book would appear just before the Condon report came out. In November 1 968, before Condon released the final report publicly, he turned it over to the National Academy of Sci­ ences ( NAS) for review and approval. NAS's review panel consisted of eleven scientists , who praised the report's scope, methodology, and concurred with all its conclusions and recommendations. The panel found the study to be a "credit­ able effort to apply objectively the relevant techniques of science to the solution of the UFO problem." It agreed that systematically studying UFO reports was not a fruitful way to expand knowledge of the . phenomena and concluded that "the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of ex­ traterrestrial visitations by intelligent beings." Frederick Sietz, president of the National Academy of Sciences and one of Condon's ex-students, wrote to Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Alexander Flax in January 1 969 to say he hoped NAS's review would "be helpful to you and other responsible officials in determining the nature and scope of any continu­ ing research .effort in this area." Flax added that the National Academy of Sciences had made its report for the "sole pur­ pose" of helping the Air Force make this decision.3 2

The Condon committee final report, 1 ,485 pages in hard cover and 965 p ages in paperback, contained a collection of analysis from various individuals who were either project staff or consultants. It had six sections and extensive appendices. The New York Times science editor, Walter Sullivan, wrDte the preface to the paperback edition. In it he basically an­ swered Saunders's charges and hinted of what was to come in the body of the text. Sullivan called proponents of the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis "UFO enthusiasts" or "UFO believ­ ers . " People who believed in the extraterrestrial theory did so, said Sullivan, because of "a hope that some sort of superior beings are watching over our world prepared to intervene if things get too bad " ; although these UFO enthusiasts tried to

·

I

· I


The Condon Committee and Its Aftermath

213

discredit the report before i t came out, the National Academy of Sciences gave it "straight As."33 Turning then to the project's critics and internal disputes, Sullivan claimed that Keyhoe, "as author of Flying Saucers A re Real, has a vested interest in the confirmation of his the­ ories" and therefore tried to discredit the project. Sullivan ex­ plained that Condon's negative statements about UFOs and his apparent interest in contactee stories were the products of a "garrulous soul who loves to spin · a yarn" ; Condon found it hard to resist recounting some of the "sillier episodes" in UFO research. The project's biggest problem, according to Sullivan, was the release of the Low memorandum. Condon did not agree with its contents, Sullivan explained, and had not seen it before the release; the Look article resulted from leaking the memorandum to "disgruntled UFO believers ."34 The final report included chapters from thirty-six people. Condon had contracted with most to write sections on, for example, the h istory of the UFO phenomenon, and public opinion. The Stanford Research Institute had written sections on plasmas, in which it criticized Klass's theories, radar, me­ teorological optics, and so on. Condon's staff wrote the remain­ ing sections. The result was a rather unorganized compilation of independent articles on disparate subjects, a minority of which dealt with UFOs. The main UFO sections looked at ninety-one cases. Most were neither the cases Low had compiled nor those NICAP had donated. Of the ninety-one cases, the project staff iden­ tified sixty-one as mispercepti.ons, hoaxes, and the like. The remaining thirty were e ither possible, probable, inconclusive, or unidentified. Because of the tentative nature of these un­ solved cases, the committee listed all of them as unexplained. This finding was significant in view of the project's working definition of a UFO : "The stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky ( or an ob­ ject thought to be capable of flight but seen when landed on the earth ) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin" and which seemed sufficiently puz­ zling to report to the authorities.35 By using this definition, the project concerned itself not with extensive evaluation of UFO reports that had defied previous analysis but with any UFO report prior to any analysis; this method greatly in­ creased the project's chances of identifying the cases it studied. Still, the staff could not identify about one-third of the cases. The final report divided the cases into five categories : as-


214

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

tronaut sightings, optical and radar sightings, old cases, cur­ rent cases, and photographic evidence. In the astronaut sight­ ing section, author Franklin Roach said three observations from astronauts McDivitt and Borman were "a challenge to the analyst" and "puzzling." Of the ten cases Roach exam­ ined that predated the report, he listed only one as identified; two were possible, one probable, one inconclusive, one "part unidentified and part astronomical," and four unidentified.86 Gordon Thayer wrote the section on optical and radar sightings, dividing them into two groups : those with uniden­ tified visual phenomena but identified radar phenomena, and those with both unidentified visual and radar phenomena. An example of the latter was the Lakenheath, England, case in August 1 9 65, which featured two different ground radar-sta­ tion, aircraft radar, and visual observations of an object that seemed to act in an intelligently controlled manner as it suc­ cessfully evaded a jet intercept. Thayer concluded that "this is the most puzzling and unusual case in the radar-visual files. The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO sug­ gests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of this sighting." Later in the report, the staff discussed this case again and found "the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appeared to be fairly high." In another case Thayer said the "sighting defies ex­ planation by conventional means." Describing a radar-visual report in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Thayer concluded : "This must remain a s one o f the most puzzling radar cases o n record, and n o conclusion i s possible at this time,"37 In the category of current, nonphotographic cases, the staff analyzed thirty-four reports, but some were multiple sightings and brought the total to fifty-one reports ; thirteen of the sightings in these reports remained unidentified. Of the four­ teen photographic cases ( one of which occurred on two days and m ade a total of fifteen photos ) , photoanalyst William K. Hartmann listed three as positively identified, eleven as either possible, probable, or inconclusive, and one as unidentified. The latter involved two photographs that a farmer in McMinn­ ville, Oregon, took in 1 950; the project staff analyzed the original negatives and interviewed the farmer. Hartmann con­ cluded : "This is one of the few UFO reports in which all fac­ tors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical ap­ pear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two


The Condon Committee and Its A ftermath

215

witnesses." The number o f reports the committee could not identify-thirty of the ninety-one analyzed-strongly suggest­ ed that some cases involved "genuine" UFOs. But the final report buried these findings : it devoted most space to the identified objects .a s Condon ignored these findings in his recommendations, which he placed at the beginni ng of the lengthy report. Con­ don's recommendations reflected more the speeches be gave during the course of the project than the evidence in the final report. His general conclusion was "that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the p ast 2 1 years that bas added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that, further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby." Addressing himself to previous lack of scientific interest in the UFO phenomenon, Condon said scientists bad ample opportunity to study the phenomenon and "have individually decided that UFO phe­ nomena do not offer a fruitful field in which to look for ma­ jor scientific discoveries." In light of this fact, Condon said, the federal government should not study UFO reports "in the expectation that they are going to contribute to the advance of science," and the Air Force's conclusions that UFOs did not threaten national security was valid. The Department of Defense, Condon suggested, should give UFOs attention "only so much as it deems necessary from a defense point of view'' and could do this "within the framework established for intellige nce and surveillance operations without the con­ tinuance of a special unit such as Project Blue Book." Con­ don found that, contrary to popular opinion, the subject of UFOs had not been "shrouded in official secrecy. What had been miscalled secrecy has been no more than an intelli­ gent p olicy of delay in releasing data so that the public does not become confused by premature publication of incomplete studies of reports. "39 Condon argued that the staff had found "no direct evi­ dence whatever of a convincing nature . . . for the claim that any UFOs represent spacecraft visiting Earth from another civilization." Although scientists said intelligent life elsewhere Was "essentially certain," Condon argued, the great distances and time involved in interstellar travel made contact between societies on pl anets in different solar systems impo ssible. He concluded : "There is no relation between ILE [intelligent life elsewhere] at other solar systems and the UFO phenomenon .

.


J I

216

The UFO Controversy in A merica

as observed on Earth." By estimating the average life span of planets and civilizations, Condon could theorize that inter­ planetary travelers would not visit earth for at least 1 0,000 years. To illustrate that it was a "fantasy" to believe in the extraterrestrial hypothesis, Condon cited, among others, con­ tactee Truman Bethurum's claim that the planet Clarion was located behind the sun and thus always out of Earth's view. Condon spent two pages proving that Clarion could not pos­ sibly exist and, therefore, that people who believed in the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis were misguided. 40 Condon also offered his version of the project's conflict with NICAP. Although NICAP maintained friendly relations with the project at the beginning, he explained, "during this period NICAP made several efforts to influence the course of our study. When it became clear that these would fail, NI­ CAP attacked the Colorado project as 'biased' and therefore without merit. "41 Condon's final remarks in the opening section concerned the problem of "miseducation" in public schools. This arose because teachers allowed children to use their science study time to read b ooks and magazine articles about UFOs. Be­ cause of errors in the material, children were "educationally harmed" or retarded in the "development of a critical faculty with regard to scientific evidence." To remedy this situation, Condon recommended that teachers withhold credit from students who study UFOs and instead "channel their interests in the direction of serious study of astronomy and meteorolo­ gy, and in the direction of critical analysis of arguments for fantastic propositions that are being supported by appeals to fallacious reasoning or false data. "42 Reactions to the Condon committee's final report followed expected lines. Keyhoe, McDonald, and Saunders held a news conference on January 1 1 , 1 9 69, a few days after the report appeared, and denounced it as a waste of money. McDonald and Saunders charged that Condon was biased against the ex­ traterrestrial intelligence hypothesis, that the committee had failed to investigate the vast majority of significant UFO re­ ports, and that Condon's conclusions did not represent the findings in the text. Furthermore, McDonald said, the Na­ tional Academy of Sciences' review panel was not adequately prepared to assess the report. Keyhoe claimed the Condon committee had examined only about one percent of the "reli­ able unexplained" UFO sighting reports that NICAP had supplied.43


The Condon Committee and Its A ftermath

217

Keyhoe elaborated on h i s objectio n s in a special January issue of NICAP's UFO Investigator. He accused Condon of not making field investigations himself, of trying to discredit some witnesses by calling them " 'inexpert, inept, or unduly excited'," and of concentrating on "kook cases . " He pointed , out those sections of the report that seemed to reaffirm that UFOs were a unique phenomenon and appealed to NICAP members for money to carry on a " full-scale campaign to � bring the UFO subject out in the open in order to offset the Condon report." Keyhoe d irected h is main criticism at the inadequacy of the investigation : he accused Condon of ignor­ ing numerous "top cases" involving highly credible witnesses who fit the project's requirements for witness rel iabil ity. Con­ don used only fifty cases from the 1 947 to 1 9 67 period, Key­ hoe charged, whereas NICAP had 1 0,000 to 1 5, 000 such cases in its files, and the fifty th e project used d id not represent the main body of solid UFO reports. In the next is­ sue of the UFO Investigator Keyhoe emphatically denied Condon's charge that NICAP had withdrawn support after failing to influence the comm ittee's direction. NICAP d id indeed try to influence the project, Keyhoe said, but only "in the direction of objectivity, thoroughness, and concentration on the really significant reports. " NICAP made every effort to cooperate with Condon and withdrew its support only "when it became evident that the project situation was be­ yond repair and foredoomed to be biased and superficial."44 APRO's reaction to the final report was as negative as NI­ CAP's. Coral Lorenzen s aid that just as Condon dismissed many sighting reports because o f internal inconsistencies, "we find that the report as a whole fails to pass the same test and should therefore be d ismissed and/ or d iscredited." The Lorenzens criticized the report for its "looseness and shal­ lowness," citing as examples Condon's unsubstantiated con­ clusions that there was no evitlence of Air Force secrecy and that school children should not be allowed to study the UFO . phenomenon. Also, the project did not investigate enough ' cases adequately, the Lorenzens said , and the report tended to choose and emphasize cases with no particular significance. They attacked the report's methodology by offering case anal­ ·

yses that directly contradicted those in the report. 45 As expected, other UFO groups and people connected with them also opposed the report. Nuclear physicist Stanton Fried man and electronics engineer Joseph Jenkins, members of a Pittsburgh UFO research group loosely affilated with NI-


218

The UFO Controversy in A merica

CAP, criticized Condon for much the same things as Keyhoe and others had. Leonard Stringfield, an old-l ine UFO pro­ ponent, claimed that Condon's thinking was "Neanderthal" and "retrogressive" while Apollo flights showed that inter­ planetary flights were near. Earl J. Neff of the Cleveland Ufology Project said Condon was b iased and the Air Force had for years "been on the hot seat." The Air Force would not admit UFOs were extraterrestrial "because there's no known defense against UFO's ."4 6

McDonald, speaking before the DuPont Chapter of the Scientific Research Society of America ( in Wilmington, Dela­ ware ) , attacked the Condon committee on n ine points. He criticized it for analyzing only a small fraction of scientifi­ cally puzzling UFO reports and for not discussing certain sig­ nificant cases it did investigate, such as the 1 9 57 Levelland sightings . Many of the reports were trivial and ins ignificant, McDonald said, and the committee should have ignored them . McDonald charged that scientifically weak and specious argumentation abounded in the case analyses. While Condon had said that scientists previously interested in the UFO phenomenon were biased, McDonald said the report it­ self was biased in the opposite direction. For example, the "disturbingly incomplete presentation of relevant evidence" in some cases was so severe that it was "little short of misrepre­ sentation of case information." In add ition, he asserted, the quantity of irrelevant p adding was so great that scientists would find studying the report tedious. Moreover, Condon had casually ignored the significant number of cases that re­ mained unidentified. In sum, McDonald said, the report "dis­ mally" failed to support Condon's negative recommendations and the National Academy of Sciences' endorsement would eventu ally be a p ainful embarrassment to it. He promised to· devote all possible personal effort to air objectively the re­ port's inadequacies because scientific clarification of the UFO problem would not come u ntil the Condon report's negative influence was neutralized.4 7 Hynek's crit ique was perhaps the most cogent. Writing in the April 1 9 69 issue of the Bulletin of the A tomic Scientists, he praised Condon for his previous contributions to physics but said his effort in the report was analogous to "Mozart producing an uninspired pot-boiler, unworthy of his talents." Hynek pointed out that the number of unexplained sightings in the report was higher than in Air Force files and that the Air Force's concern over u nidentifieds wa!l why Condon

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mounted the investigation i n the first place. Hynek thought Condon had "grossly underestimated the scope and nature of the problem he was undertaking," as evidenced in his defini­ tion of UFOs. The definition, Hynek said, was so broad that the committee tried to study too much with its l imited time and funds. Hynek proposed an alternate definition that limited the purpose : "A UFO is a report . . . the contents of which are puzzling not only to the observer but to others who have the technical training the observer may lack." On the basis of his many years of experience, Hynek said, he would have deleted about two-thirds of the report's cases as scientifi­ cally profitlessfS Warming to his task, Hynek zeroed in on the report's un­ derlying assumption. The project staff and the public, Hynek claimed, had confused the UFO problem with the extraterres­ trial hypothesis. The issue was not the validity of the extrater­ restrial hypothesis but the existence of a legitimate UFO phenomenon regardless of theories about its origin. Just as nineteenth-century scientists could not explain the aurora borealis with their physics, UFOs might be as inexplicable in terms of twentieth-century physics. Condon's conclusion that a phenomenon that thousands of people over a long period of time had reported was still unworthy of further scientific at­ tention, Hynek said, did not serve science.49 Hynek hit hard at the project's selection of scientists. Asking an inexperienced group of scientists to take a fresh look at the UFO problem "was akin to asking a group of cul­ inary novices to take a fresh look at cooking and then open a restaurant. Without seasoned advice, there would be many burned pots, many burned fingers, many dissatisfied cus­ tomers." Concluding his critique, Hynek found a serious flaw in the report's methodology. "For any given reported UFO case, if taken by itself and without respect and regard to cor­ relations with other truly puzzling reports in this and other countries," Hynek explained, "a possible natural, even though farfetched, explanation can always be adduced." The Condon committee found well-known causes for most UFOs because it operated solely on the hypothesis that these were the causes. As an example Hynek quoted a passage from the re­ port : " 'This unusual sighting should therefore be assigned to the category of some almost certainly natural phenomenon which is so rare that it apparently has never been reported before or since. ' " The final verdict on the Condon commit­ tee, Hynek said, "will be handed down by the UFO phenom-


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enon itself. Past experience suggests that it cannot be readily waved away. "li O Except for McDonald and Hynek, most other scientists did not react extensively to the Condon committee's report. Those who did speak out held opposing opinions. Dr. Robert M. L. B aker, who had testified at the 1 968 House hearing, criticized the report in Scientific Research . He said it did con­ tain evidence that scientists should continue to study the UFO phenomenon although the provocative and unexplained UFO sightings were hidden in the text among extensive dis­ cussions of explained cases and often superfluous technical background m aterial. The report mixed the unexplained and explained UFO cases in "an almost contrived manner-and this tactic confuses or diverts all but the most dedicated reader." According to Baker, Condon should h ave highlighted the unexplained cases and juxtaposed them to the explained cases for comparison purposes . Baker thought the Condon committee should have determined the probability that UFOs were a new phenomenon, and if so, what patterns the sight­ ings displayed. Then the committee should have formulated hypotheses to account for them. 51 Frederick J. Hooven, who was a consultant to the commit­ tee and analyzed a case in which a low-flying UFO report­ edly affected an automobile, also took issue with the final re­ port. He did not think UFOs were extraterrestrial, but he held that the possibility of a visitor from space was reason­ able enough to warrant continuing investigation of UFOs. Al­ though man could not speculate about the state of science 50,000 years from now, Hooven explained, he could conceive of the idea that an extraterrestrial, technologically based civ­ ilization could be at least this far ahead of our own techno­ logical capabilities. Science was in its infancy, he said, and what we knew of physics was only a tiny fraction of what we would understand in the future. 52 Yet most scientists seemed to support the Condon commit­ tee report. For example, Dr. Donald E. Ehlers, president of the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Soc iety, wrote in a letter to the New York Times that the committee was courageous because it "discounted a growing rel igion. " But as a taxpayer Ehlers was annoyed : the government spent "five hundred kilo­ bucks" to investigate a phenomenon and came to the same conclusion which, "since the beginning of this hysterical witchhunt, has been that of all professi onal scientists worthy of the title." Dr. Hudson Hoagland, president emeritus of the


The Condon Committee and Its Aftermath

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Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology and on the board of directors o f the American Association for the Ad­ vancement of Science, claimed that the current concern with flying saucers resembled the old obsession with ghosts and seances. Even after investigators exposed seances as frauds, Hoagland said, the devout band of followers never relin­ quished their belief in them . For Hoagland the Condon study added "massive additional weight to the already overwhelm­ ing improbability of visits by UFOs guided by intelligent beings." But because science could not p rove a negative, some UFOs would remain unexplained due to insufficient in­ formation ; yet these u nexplained cases did not justify contin­ uing scient1fic investigation. Hong-Yee Chiu of NASA's Insti­ tute for Space Stud ies said now "ufology should be regarded as a pseudo-science. " But the UFO enthusiasts would "find the truth a bitter p ill" and would probably continue their "ufological career" with "greater vigor and bitterness toward scientists . " He argued th at it was "unthinkable" that extrater­ restrial visitors would h ave visited our planet, which is ind is­ tinguishable "from the background noise of the Galaxy. "53 A few politicians were a nnoyed enough to react to the Condon report. Congressman Will iam F. Ryan (New York) attacked it on the House floor : the study did not explain con­ clusively the UFO phenomenon and its conclusions were not justified ; accepting the conclusions m ight delay solving the UFO puzzle and make "a scientific breakthrough in an un­ derstanding of the problem" more diffi c ult. Noting that in its July 1 968 hearing the House Committee on Science and As­ tronautics had forbidden discussion of the Condon committee because it fell within th e jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee, Ryan said Condon's conclusions were scientific judgments and therefore fell with in the purview of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. There­ fore, Ryan said, the committee had a "duty and responsibil­ ity" to hold hearings on the Condon report and its implica­ tiom;. By trying to stop public discussion and governmental a ction on UFOs, Ryan ch arged, the report undermined confi­ dence in its own conclusions and recommendations. "Public interest in UFOs cannot be wished away, and reported sight­ ings will persist. " Ryan recommended continued government involvement in UFOs, suggesting th at NASA assume respon­ sibility for the study. Californ ia Congressman Jerry Pettis, who had found the testimony at the July hearing impressive, announced that be too would seek a congressional investiga-


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tion of the Condon report in the next session. Neither Ryan's recommendations nor Pettis's promise came to fruition.114 Newspaper reactions were divided. Most applauded the conclusions and recommendations of the Condon committee, saying the report was "reasonable, " "thorough," "objective," and "sound" and the "eminent scientists" who served on the committee constituted an "impressive roster of experts." The New York Times ran full-page articles about the report, ex­ cerpted it, and gave it front-page coverage. Condon and his staff, the New York Times said, had made "a careful and ex­ tensive investigation" of the phenomenon, and the study would find "wide acceptance" from all except a few "true be­ lievers" who were "committed" to the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis. The rest of society could now worry about "more serious matters." New York Times science editor Walter Sul­ livan, who wrote the preface to the paperback edition of the report, suggested that the small number of unexplained cases could be identified if the committee h ad suffi cient informa­ tion. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal called Condon's sug­ gestion that further UFO study would not serve science a "sound conclusion" and "common sense ."55 The newspapers that praised the Condon committee's con­ clusions and recommendations almost always accompanied their remarks with the observation that "true believers," re­ gardless of how convincing the report was, would not change their views. Frequently newspapers compared true believers to members of the British Flat Earth Society who, despite photographs and astronauts' eye-witness accounts, refused to believe the earth was round. One editorial said NICAP was .akin to the "World is Flat Society" and accused it of trying to coerce one project investigator into making his findings "less positive." Moreover, many newspapers-in a turnabout of general press coverage in 1 9 65 and 1 9 66-resorted to ridi­ culing UFO proponents as "UFO enthusiasts," "diehard wish­ ful thinkers, " "die-hard flying saucer sighters," "nuts," "fanat­ ics," and "dedicated disciples of the 'little green men from Mars' school." Syndicated science writer William Hines ac­ cused Keyhoe of being interested in UFOs for the money he received from "the sale of sensational paperbacks, boob-bah magazines articles and the donations of excitable people. "56 Not all newspapers and journalists supported the Condon report. Luci an Warren, writing in the Buffalo Evening News, called the report a "total bust" because it did not explain ade­ quately the sightings in the Buffalo area. The Knoxville Jour-

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nal expressed reservations because the report contained some unexplained photographs and sighting interpretations inconsis­ tent with the facts . Chattanooga, Ten nessee , columnist Sally Latham caiied the repo rt a " $ 5 00,000 woolly eyeshade. " Jour­ nalist Tom Tiede opposed the Condon report and defended NICAP. Once again "America is laughing at Don Keyhoe," he said, but i n the final analysis Keyhoe m ight h ave the last laugh. Mike Culbert, columnist for the Berkeley Daily Gazette, added a political twist by singul arly attacking Con­ don for being a subversive ( because of his past battles with the House Comm ittee on Un-American Activitie s ) and inti­ m ated that Condon was foiiowing Moscow's "new 'line' " in trying to discred it the existence of UFOs.5 7

Generally, maga�ine articles on the Condon committee's fi­ nal report followed the same p atterns as the newspaper re­ ports. Magazines supporting the report thought it would not end the controversy. Phil ip Boffey, in Science, called the re­ port the "most thorough and sophisticated investigation of the nebulous UFO phenomenon ever conducted" but doubted whether "flying saucer fans" or "UFO enthusiasts" would be satisfied : "scientific methods are not always able to resolve problems i n fields where emotions run high and data are scarce . " Po p ular Science writer Alden Armagnac thought the bel ievers would not be quieted even though the "chances of ever finding a real saucer l ook a whole lot more remote, after you read the Condon report, than before. " U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek agreed that the controversy would continue. Newsweek observed that saucer believers would continue to believe just as alchemy long resisted chemistry's discoveries and astrology survived in spite of modern psychology_r;s Similarly, the Nation said that although we l ived in an age of "ever-increasing rationality," science and the scientific method still insp ired "stout resistance, especially when the subject is one of a ncient myth and emotional connotation." The Nation theorized that we "yearn for neighbors among the stars" to help relieve our loneliness. For example, the ar­ ticle pointed out, "hardly any of these true believers have seen, or even thought they saw, anything" but insisted on be­ lieving witnesses who "on investigation almost invariably turn out to be unrel iable or to have a natural istic explanation." The Nation agreed with Condon's recommendation to keep school children from read ing about UFOs and getting a warped view of science ; th is was a "publ ic service of no small


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importance." Time, in "Saucers End," explained that the Condon report had destroyed saucer buffs' favorite theories with "rational, simple explanations."59 During the public debate over the report, Condon re­ mained quiet. But he broke his silence in April 1 9 69 in a speech before the American Philosophical Society in Philadel­ phia. The topic was "UFOs I Have Loved and Lost." Condon defended his conclusion that continued scientific study of UFOs was unwarranted, despite those who said oth­ erwise. To reinforce this point, he related how "flying saucer buffs who have been making money from sensational writing and lecturing to gullible audiences, and collecting dues from the membership of their pseudo-science organizations" had b itterly denounced his conclusions. He told several humorous stories about contactees but allowed that some UFO pro­ ponents were "deeply sincere." He equated the study of UFOs with astrology, spiritualism, psychokinesis, and other pseudosciences, and he again said it was practically criminal for teachers to teach these subjects to young people : "In my view publishers who publish or teachers who teach any of the pseudo-sciences as established truth should, on being found guilty, be publicly horsewhipped, and forever banned from further activity in these usually honorable professions."60 fhroughout the debate over the Condon committee's final Aeport, the Air Force continued its public relations effort but with less sound and fury than before, for the Condon com­ mittee had taken some of the pressure off. Since 1 966 the Air Force quietly had collected reports, submitted articles to mag­ azines, and issued its usual press statements, fact sheets, and annual Project Blue Book reports. The Blue Book reports in­ cluded statistical breakdowns of the number of reported sight­ ings and the number of solved cases, a standard resume on how the Air Force investigated and alalyzed UFO reports, an explanation of the most common misidentifications of known objects, short histories of the Air Force's UFO project, dis­ cussions of the improbability of UFOs coming from other planets, and a bibliography that usually contained only one book treating the extraterrestrial hypothesis seriously. Using its standard definition of a UFO-"any aerial object or phe­ nomenon which the observer is unable to identify"-the Air Force claimed in 1 969 that it had identified all but 701 of the 1 2 ,6 1 8 reports it had received since 1 947. It reported a de­ cline in reports, from the nearly 3, 000 in 1 9 65-67 to 375 in 1 968 and 1 4 6 in 1 969-the lowest number since 1 947. Only


The Condon Comm ittee and Its Aftermath

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one report in 1 9 69 remained unidentified. Because of the Air Force's usual method of putting the probable and possible re­ ports in with the identified category, the statistics overwhelm­ ingly favored solved cases. at The Air Force purposefully kept a low profile during the Condon committee's study. Fearful of being criticized for negatively influencing the committee, the Air Force was care­ ful not to interfere with the committee's work and made no public statements about it. But the Air Force did not put aside work on its own UFO program. In 1 9 66 and 1 9 67, while the Condon committee was conducting its investigation, some people at the Foreign Technology Division ( FTD ) asked t o strengthen Project Blue Book's scientific capabilities. This resulted from three factors : intense public interest in UFOs, the concomitant criticism of the Air Force, and the 1 9 66 Gallup Poll finding that nearly half of the adult popula­ tion believed flying saucers were real although not necessarily extraterrestrial. Noting this public interest, Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper, FTD's new commander, wanted to build a "new intage for Project Blue Book" based on this "anchored public attitude." Sleeper thought Project Blue Book should begin a "positive program ainted at establish ing contact with extrater­ restrial life." But Air Force Director of Information General W. C. Garland bad no interest in new images in 1 967 and wanted no part of a program to search for extraterrestrial life. Besides, said Garland, "we would really open the flood gates on UFO problems if the public thought that the Con­ don group was about to involve in extensive research on ex­ traterrestrial activities. " Thus ended Sleeper's plan to energize Project Blue Book.62 Nonetheless, Sleeper was persistent. In September 1 9 68 he wrote to Hynek asking for suggestions "towards defining those areas of scientific weakness" in Blue Book. Hynek re­ marked that this request marked the first time in the twenty years of his association with the Air Force that anyone had asked for his advice on Blue Book's scientific methodology. Hynek responded with a comprehensive critique of Blue Book's methods, attitudes, and conclusions. He attacked the Air Force in its most sensitive and potentially most respon­ sive area : Blue Book had not fulfilled its twofold obligation, under AFR 80- 1 7, to determine the potential danger of UFOs to the national security and to use the scientific and technical data garnered from the study of UFO reports. The Air Force claimed that UFOs were not dangerous, Hynek


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said, only because so far the objects had displ ayed no hostil­ ity, but this did not mean that UFOs were not hostile or that something could not happen in the future. Furthermore, Hy­ nek charged, Blue Book had been inept, inefficient, and un­ scientific : it had emphasized expl anations at any cost and failed to investigate significant cases adequately, spend ing too much time on obvious and routine cases ; the staff was not trained to handle the most rudimentary scientific analyses, yet it routinely used explanations based on sophisiticated scien­ tific knowledge . os

Hynek also criticized the Air Force's pol icy of eliminating the p ossible, probable, and insufficient data categories from its year-end reports to make Blue Book seem efficient and most unidentifieds appear as misidentifications. Hynek com­ pl ained that time and again his suggestions for improving the quality of Blue Book had gone unheeded, that even he did not have free access to the UFO case files, and that the Air Force did not tell him about significant UFO reports. Blue Book was a closed system where project officers only talked to one another and made no attempts to establish working relationships with Air Force scientists or with Air Force l abo­ ratories. Finally, as in his later critique of the Condon report, Hynek accused the Air Force of treating UFO reports as completely separate occurrences and not attempting to dis­ cern patterns of reported UFO behavior that could help solve the UFO mystery. By treating reports separately, Hynek ar­ gued� Project Blue Book personnel could always solve the case by explaining it as a m isidentification of a natural phe­ nomenon, an hallucination, or a hoax. 6 4 Impassioned and critical as Hynek's letter was, it came too late for the Air Force to worry or do anything about, for the Condon report came out a few months later. Hynek's letter was the last major internal criticism of the Air Force. The Condon report recommended closing down Project Blue Book. In March 1 969 a meeting took place at Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the Air Defense Command, Air Force Systems Command, Office of Aerospace Research, Office of Scientific Research, and Of­ fice of Information. "From the moment the meeting opened," Captain David Shea of SAFOI remembered, "there was no doubt that Project Blue Book was finished . Everyone agreed on that." The major question was where to place B lue Book's files to keep people "with a UFO axe to grind" from having easy access to them. For this reason SAFOI rejected Wash-

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ington, D.C., as the site for the documents. It also thought the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, was too accessible. Finally SAFOI decided on the less accessible Air Force Ar­ chives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. 65 On December 1 7, 1 9 69, Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, Jr., officially announced the termination of the Air Force's twenty-two-year study of unidentified flying ob­ jects. An Air Force news release noted that Seamans, in a memorandum to Air Force Chief of Staff General John D. Ryan, said Blue Book's continuance " 'cannot be justified ei­ ther on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.' " Seamans based his recommendation on the Con­ don study, the N ational Academy of Sciences's approval of the study, "past UFO studies," and previous UFO investigat­ ing experience. 66 Most UFO investigators and researchers were not unhappy about the announcement. McDonald called it "no great loss," since Blue Book had been unsuccessful; he feared, though, that its closing might prompt people to believe no real prob­ lem existed. APRO's James Lorenzen thought terminating Blue Book eliminated a stumbling block that had h indered objective inquiry into the UFO problem. Stuart Nixon, as­ sistant director at NICAP, said in a press conference that the Air Force's termination opened the way for a fresh look at the UFO problem free from military involvement, and he called for a federal or private agency to open new UFO in­ vestigations. The New York Times said nearly everyone in the country, except "saucer buffs," would applaud the Air Force's decision, but "no doubt true believers will continue their quest more convinced than ever" of a conspiracy. The p aper was puzzled that the Air Force had waited so long to act after Condon had "punctured the U.F.O. bubble.''67 Hy­ nek, out of a job with Blue Book, remained in his position at Northwestern University and also began work on a book about the UFO phenomenon and the Air Force's and Con­ don's investigations of it. The closing down of Blue Book, in addition to the dearth of sightings since 1 968 and the Condon report, definitely af­ fected public interest in the subject. NICAP, claiming 1 2,000 members in 1 967, steadily lost members through 1 968, 1 969, and 1 970; by 1 9 7 1 the membership decreased to 4 ,000. APRO had the same problem, its membcQbj,p declining from about 4,000 in 1 9 67 to 2,000 in 1 97 1 . Newspaper and maga•

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zine publicity, with the exception of articles on the Condon committee and the closing of Blue Book, virtually ceased . Many of the popular UFO magazines stopped publ ication for lack of readership. The contactees, who had long since faded in popularity, although still somewhat i n evidence, were no longer a factor in the UFO controversy. sa Furthermore, younger people were displacing some of the familiar figures. N ICAP's chronic financial problems had be­ come so severe by the end of 1 969 that its board of gover­ nors, which h ad not held a meeting s ince 1 960, decided to reassert its authority. In a stormy and angry meeting, the board determined that Keyhoe h ad to go. Keyhoe was furious about this "coup" but be stepped down, although he remained on the board. After twelve tumultuous years as d irector of NICAP, Keyhoe quietly retired to his home in Luray, Vir­ ginia, to begin work on his fifth book on UFOs. During his reign NICAP had become a force as a public pressure and education group that no other UFO organ ization could match. Its power and pressure were a major concern to the Air Force, and it had helped keep the UFO issue alive for the public and in Congress. But in the aftermath of the Con­ don report, Stuart Nixon, NICAP's new d irector, h ad all he could do to keep the organization alive. In 1 968 Richard Greenwell, the young British assistant director of APRO , also tried to avert a financial crisis-the result of the Condon re­ port and subsequent loss of membership. Interest on a popu­ lar level did not d isappear completely, though . A new club, the Midwest UFO network, appeared in 1 969 and its mem­ bership rapidly climbed , although its numbers only amounted to several hundred by 1 9 7 0.69 Even though the established private UFO organizations had serious problems at the end of 1 969, scientific interest in UFOs still was at a peak. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics UFO Subcommittee continued its UFO study with a report prom ised for 1 970, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science ( AAA S ) scheduled a symposium on UFOs for its December 1 969 convention. Thornton Page, wh o had been a member of the Robertson panel in 1 953, and Carl Sagan had p roposed a UFO sym­ posium for the December 1 968 meeting of AAAS in D allas, but they decided to postpone it for a year when it became clear that the Condon report would not come out until after the symposium and when Condon and some influential

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AAAS members objected. McDonald said the symposium was "frowned upon by elder statesmen. "70 The symposium was on again in 1 9 69, but not without stiff opposition from Condon. He circulated three letters from Hudson Hoagland, National Academy of Sciences member C. D . Shane, and himself describing their objections. In his own letter be blasted AAAS in highly charged emotional term s : "The UFO buffs are a slippery lot, and do a great deal b y 'in­ sinuendo,' so that it is usually useless to try to find out what they are really contending. Some never had any critical fac­ ulty, some are suffering severely from progressive degeneration of whatever critical faculty they ever bad." Since reputable scientists had not wasted time on such a worthless subject, Condon said, AAAS would not be able to get well-informed speakers "to criticize the fantasies of the UFO cult." The AAAS symposium would give the "UFO nonsense" a de­ gree of legitimacy that would mislead the ignorant and "the intelligent will think AAA S is crazy." If AAAS gave a plat­ form to the "UFO charlatans,'' it would aid them in their "deceptive and fradulent [sic] operations." Condon even ap­ pealed to Vice President Spiro Agnew to stop the symposium, but Agnew did not.71 The AAAS symposium went on as planned in December 1 9 69 in Boston. The participants fell into three groups. McDonald, Hynek, Robert L. Hall, and Robert M. L. Baker presented the case for UFOs as anomalous phenomena. Thornton Page, psychologist Douglass Price-Williams, physi­ cist Philip Morrison, and astronomer Frank D. Drake took a middle, "agnostic" p osition. Sagan, Menzel (who was sick but Walter Orr Roberts read his paper ) , journalist Walter Sul­ livan, Condon staff members William K. Hartmann and Franklin Roach, psychiatrists Lester Grinspoon and Alan D. Persky, and radar expert Kenneth Hardy presented the argu­ ments for UFOs being explainable as known phenomena. Al­ though heavily weighted with speakers against the idea that UFOs were anomalous phenomena, the symposium was the best scientific discussion of the subject to date. 72 Even though the AAAS symposium featured only four scientists who thought UFOs were anomalous, many more scientists, less fearful of ridicule because of the legitimacy the Condon committee had given the topic, became increasingly active in the field. Through Richard Greenwell's and the Lorenzens' aggressive recruiting of consultants for APRO,


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over twenty-five physical and social scientists joined the APRO consultant roster By 1 970 the UFO co ntrovers y was practically a forgotten episode in the press. NICAP's and AFRO's l o s se s of member­ ship had depleted their finances and the heads of these or­ ganizations began to redirect their efforts. They no longer cried for a scientific investigation. Instead, Stuart Nixon of NICAP and the Lorenzens and Richard Greenwell of APRO began p roje cts to computerize and microfilm all their sighting reports so that investigators would have e asy access to the raw data. The new theory among UFO investigators was that individual schol.ars would have to study selected aspects of the pb en o me n on and come to independent co nclu si o n s . The shift was away from asking the "outside" co mmu nity to con­ sider the origins of UFOs and toward encouraging the gro wing number of individual scientists interested in the sub­ ject to conduct their own internal investigations free from the encumbrances of the "scientific establishment." Refle ct ing this new attitude, APRO held three symposiums on the UFO phe­ nomenon, in Baltimore in January 1 97 1 , in Santa Ana ( Cali­ fornia) in June 1 9 7 1 , and in Tucson in November 1 97 1 . The Tucson symposium featured papers by th irtee n APRO consul­ tants in various scientific disciplines. The Midwest (later, Mu­ tual ) UFO Ne two rk also established an annual conference on the subject. 73 The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics released its promised UFO subcommittee report in November 1 9 70. The subcommittee consisted of eleven very prominent members of the scientific community including its chairman, Joachim Keuttner. They fou nd no basis for Condon's conclu­ sion that nothing of scientific value would come from further study of UFOs. In fact, the subcommittee found it "difficult to ign o re the small residue of well-documented but unex· plainable cases which form the hard core of the UFO contro­ ve rs y It recommended increased study with an emphasis on data collection and high-quality scientific analysis, and it expressed hope that scientists, engineers, and government age nc i es would consider "sound proposals in this field witho ut bias or fear of r id icule a nd repe rcuss i o n Finally, the sub­ committee announced it would publish examples of "hard­ core" UFO ca se s so that AIAA members could form their own opinion s In July and September 1 9 7 1 the AIAA journal Astronautics and A eronautics carried two important UFO en· cou nter cases. Also in 1 97 1 Industrial Research polled its .

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The Condon Committee and Its A ftermath

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readers about the UFO phenomenon. Of the 2, 700 respon­ dents, 54 percent thought UFOs "probably" or "definitely" existed, 8 percent claimed to have seen a UFO, 32 per­ cent thought the objects came from "outer space," 32 percent thought they were conventional phenomena, and 35 per­ cent was undecided about their origin.74 The ridicule attached to the study of UFOs revived in 1 970. Science magazine refused to publish electrical engineer William T. Powers's p aper on UFOs, explaining to him that "at the present time the overwhelming majority of our read­ ers are not interested in a further discussion" of the phenom­ enon. Science also refused to publish a critique of the Con­ don report by UCLA psychologist Douglass Price-Williams. Yet the magazine did print social worker Donald Warren's article espousing the theory that most people who reported UFOs suffered from "status inconsistency" : UFO witnesses bad a higher educational level than their employment indi­ cated.75 To scientists, ridicule certainly loomed as the most fearful aspect of becoming i nvolved on the positive side of the UFO controversy. Hynek, m indful of ridicule's destructive poten­ tial, bad skillfully maneuvered around its pitfalls to prevent harming his academic and professional credibility. Loss of credibility would have destroyed any influence he m ay have bad in urging other scientists to take the UFO problem seri­ ously. His change of attitude toward UFOs had taken so long that be bad not only succeeded in establ ishing his credentials as a scientist but h ad also learned methods of avoiding ridi­ cule in the process. Other researchers were not so fortunate. McDonald's case is a good example. During the years of his intense activity in UFO research, McDonald had managed to avoid the ridicule that plagued and hindered so many others. With the exception of Klass's vitriolic attacks on him, McDonald's bold stands on UFOs bad not incurred censure from his colleagues, the press, or others. But in 1 97 1 he found himself in a position of h aving ridicule used against him to discredit his professional credibil­ ity. The House Committee on Appropriations called McDonald to testify about the supersonic transport ( SST ) plane because, as part of a National Academy of Sciences panel on weather and climate modification, he had worked arduously for three months on how the SST would affect the atmosphere. McDon­ ald bad discovered that the SST would reduce the protective


232

The UFO Controversy i n A merica

layer of ozone in the atmosphere, and this might cause an ad­ ditional 1 0,000 cases of skin cancer each year in the United States. During McDonald's testimony, Congressman Silvio Conte of Massachusetts abruptly pointed out that McDonald was an expert on UFOs and believed power failures in New York "were caused by these flying saucers." Conte thought this point was "very, very important." McDonald calmly re­ plied that he had not come to that conclusion but that he did think enough of a correlation existed between UFO sightings in the areas of power outages and the failures to warrant fur­ ther investigation. During this exchange spectators and some congressmen openly laughed at McDonald. Conte kept after him, obviously trying to impugn his credibility. Congressman William Minshall of Ohio joined in and mentioned that Congress had held open and closed hearings on the subject and Department of Defense "experts" had "absolutely dis­ counted any possibility of actual incursion into airspace by people from the outer planets." After a recess, Conte again brought up UFOs, trying to link McDonald's views on skin cancer with his views on UFOs-as if both of them were somewhat deranged. McDonald protested that no relationship existed between the two.7o The next day a general discussion ensued about McDon­ ald's credentials, and Congressmen Yates of Illinois, McFall of California, and witness Will Kellogg, director of the Na­ tional Center for Atmospheric Research, tried to recover some of the damage done to McDonald by stating that he was a "very distinguished atmospheric physicist." They said they deplored the snickering that some congressmen had in­ dulged in the day before. Yet that afternoon Conte again hit hard at McDonald's credibility. First he read a section of McDonald's testimony before the Roush committee hearing in July 1 968 when McDonald said he thought some reports of UFO occupants might be valid. Then Conte said, "A man who comes here and tells me that the SST flying in the strato­ sphere is going to cause thousands of skin cancers has to back up his theory that there are little men flying around the sky. I think this is very important."77 McDonald's work on the SST was his last project. In June 1 9 7 1 be committed suicide at the age of fifty-one. He had not had the success with scientists in the area of UFOs that he had hoped for. He had not induced NASA to take on a study of UFOs, something he worked on for years. He had not convince<d the scientific community to accept UFO research


The Condon Committee and Its A ftermath

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as a worthwhile endeavor. And he had not reduced the ridi­ cule that so hindered systematic investigation of the phenom­ enon. Even after his death the ridicule of him that came out in the hearings did not stop. The eminent paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson called McDonald's advocacy of the extraterrestrial hypothesis a "monument to gullibility." Con­ don said bluntly that McDonald was a "kook." In 1 972 Vice President Agnew derided Senator Edward Kennedy of Massa­ chusetts for quoting McDonald's opposition to the SST with­ out also mentioning that McDonald " 'had declared that the electric power failures in New York City were caused by air­ craft from outer space, otherwise known as flying saucers.' " Agnew conceded that " 'there is always a remote possiblity that flying saucer people can be right about some things,' " yet he placed McDonald and Kennedy, for their opposition to the SST, in the ranks of English doctors who had opposed smallpox vaccinations because they would make people look like cows. 78 Nevertheless, McDonald's efforts did have an effect on the scientific community. His correspondence, speeches, and dis­ cussions had brought the UFO problem to the attention of many scientists who had not previously been aware of it. His research and investigation of case h istories had uncovered a multitude of strong cases that other UFO researchers could point to as being virtually irrefutable and the crux of the UFO controversy. In the final analysis, perhaps McDonald's greatest contribution was to help legitimize the study of UFOs by lending his prestige to the field and joining Hynek in publicly advocating serious academic attention to the sub­ ject. Partially as a result of McDonald's and Hynek's efforts, a growing core of scientists became more interested in the UFO mystery. Many were younger men who had not gone through the wars with the Air Force, the contactees, and the scientific community. They formed the nucleus of a group of scientists who quietly studied the UFO pheno menon in the early 1 970s. The year 1 972 was calm. The national UFO organizations tried to regroup the membership they had lost as a result of the Condon report and the lack of widespread sightings. UFO reports had increased somewhat, but not enough to gain pub­ licity or renew public interest. Hynek's book, The UFO Ex­ perience: A Scientific Inquiry, came out in 1 972. In it, he criticized the Air Force's handling of UFO reports and the Condon committee's methods and conclusions, and he dispas-


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sionately described the UFO phenomenon and issues in UFO research. He set up new procedures whereby scientists could study the problem. His book brought the study of UFOs to a new level of sophistication. With an unemotional and undog­ matic approach, Hynek helped bring the subject back to re­ spectability and even obtained a favorable review in the pages of Science.79 Condon, embittered from the criticism he had faced in the previous three years, had only harsh words for his adversaries, who he believed based their scientific judg­ ments on unsound. evidence. Saunders was a "kook," McDon­ ald was a "kook," Hynek was "sort of nuts" and the Air Force should have fired h im early on. Obviously disgusted with the entire controversy and wanting no more to do with it, Condon claimed to have burned the project's records. so By the end of 1 972 many people, including scientists and news reporters, thought flying saucer crazes were a quaint part of the popular culture of bygone years. The early 1 970s' nostalgia fad curiously resurrected UFOs as a part of the ten­ sions of the 1 950s. For the public, UFOs were yesterday's news.

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1 9 73 :

ECHOES O F THE PA ST

Thousands o f people i n the United States i n 1973 and 1 974 said they saw unidentified flying objects i n the skies

over nearly every state in the Union, including Alabama, Arkansas, Cal ifornia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississipp i, M issouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The sighting wave ranked with those of 1 896-97, 1 947, 1 9 52, 1 957, and 1 965-67 in intensity, m aking it one of the l argest in American history. S ighting reports had slowly in足 creased since 1 970, and a flurry of reports in 1 972 preceded the massive wave of the following year. January began the 1 973 wave when private UFO organiza足 tions received reports from northern Aalbama and Rhode Is足 land. Sightings continued through March with reports from the Piedmont, Missouri, area and eastern Pennsylvania. From May through July the reports dwindled. The National Investi足 gations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP ) , sure that the m inor wave had ended , called 1 97 3 the "Year of the 'Miniflap'." But in August people in Georgia started reporting UFOs again. By September the South seemed to be involved in a wave, and by October it was clear that the entire nation was in its grips. M id-October was the peak period . Reports continued at a h igh rate in November, d ipped in December, increased again in January 1 974, and continued through April 1 974. By June the wave had subsided. UFO researchers were unable to determine the exact number of s ightings in the 1 973-74 wave. One researcher catalogued over five hundred reports in Pennsylvania alone. If, as the A ir Force estimated in the early 1 950s, generally only about 10 percent o f the people who had s ightings reported them, then the 1 97 3-74 wave must h ave prod uced thousands of sightings.l

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The 1 97 3-74 wave mirrored previous large waves, although by mid- 1 974 not enough time had passed for investigators to scrutinize the reports thoroughly for misidentifications, hoaxes, and the l ike. Reports fell into a wide range of UFO sighting categories. Among them were high-level and distant sightings, low-level sightings, car-chasing incidents, sightings causing electrical and/ or mechanical effects or interference, sightings affecting animals, sightings affecting people physi­ cally, sightings causing psychological and mental effects on people, landings with traces left behind, and occupant cases. High-level and long-distance night sightings constituted, as always, the largest category of reports. Although witnesses of­ ten could give only vague, general descriptions of the objects, they considered the objects strange enough to notify local po­ lice and newspapers. Police officers in Manassas Park, Virginia, watched a glow­ ing, circular object for over two hours late one night in De­ cember " 1 9 7 3 . Through binoculars the officers could see a green light on one side of the object and a red light on the other side. A short distance away another police officer watched two lights hover in the sky. Suddenly one dropped to tree-top level and hovered silently while the other light re­ mained stationary. After fifteen minutes the first light moved back up, and then both lights disappeared .2 In Waverly, Illi­ nois, the police chief and three other citizens saw an object with a white light in the m iddle and red and green flashing lights on each side early in the morning of October 1 7, 1 97 3 . A s the astonished men watched, the object sent o u t glowing "embers" that burned in the sky as they fell to the ground. They watched the object with binoculars for an hour and forty-five m inutes.a Ohio governor John Gilligan and his wife were driving near Ann Arbor, Michigan, when they saw a "vertical amber colored" object for about half an hour. It ascended, pene­ trated the cloud cover, ,and then disappeared. Governor Gilli­ gan told reporters that what he had seen was not a bird or plane.4 In October a young couple staying in a hotel near Dallas called two bellmen outside to view a strange, blindingly bright, red "ball" hovering over another hotel near the Texas Stadium. As the ball came closer to the witnesses, two smaller red balls came out of the larger object. The smaller balls grew large and flew off to the north and south. 5 Witnesses in Magnolia, Mississippi, saw a round object,

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1 973: Echoes of the Past

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"colored like shiny new aluminum," hanging in the sky. As they watched, the object opened up and a rectangular, darkly colored "parachute-like thing" came out of it. The witnesses flagged down a passing motorist, and together they watched as the round object opened up again after a few minutes and the rectangular parachute-like device reentered it. The object then rose higher and disappeared into the clouds. 6 Several high school students in Palmyra, Missouri, reported a strange spectacle similar to the 1 896-97 sightings. An object with flashing lights appeared near the Mississippi River and shone a spotlight on a passing barge, lighting up the entire river bottom. The object then circled the river bottom several times and approached spectators on shore before leaving the area. Four days later Palmyra police and citizens observed an object with red, white, and amber lights on it and two ex­ tremely powerful "headlights" in front. It silently and slowly circled the town at a low level. When it flew over an elemen­ tary school police officers shone a spotlight on the object and it immediately moved away. The object made a humming sound similar to an electrical transformer.7 As in previous sighting waves, witnesses in 1 973-74 claimed that beams of light came out of objects. Near Fayette­ ville, Arkansas , a woman saw a bright light the size of a "No. 3 washtub" with a beam of light radiating from it in a whirlwind motion. People in Felton, Pennsylvania, observed three oval-shaped UFOs revolving with orange coloring around the middle of them. One of the objects had a beam radiating from it. In Washington Township, New Jersey, witnesses described a spinning object that resembled an amusement park "whip" car with red and green lights and a red ray coming down from it. s Many people observed strange objects at a low altitude, usually at night. For instance, an elementary school bus driver in London, Ohio, saw a yellow orange, football-shaped �0 the size of a bam hovering above some trees. The ob­ ject's glow lighted up the trees and the ground around them. The object rose straight up and flew away. "People will think I've gone off the deep end," the witness declared, "but I know what I saw."9 Citizens summoned Los Angeles police officers to investi­ gate a strange object on the east side of the city. Arriving at the scene, the police officers saw from their car an object "oblong shaped and very bright and bluish-white, like a mer­ cury vapor lamp." The object then descended to the ground,


238

The UFO Controversy in A merica

and a sign obscured it from the officers' view. They continued toward it in their squad car, sighted it again, and estimated that i t was the s ize of a half doll ar at arm's length. The ob­ ject rose at a 45 degree angle to a height of between 1 ,000 and 1 , 500 feet and sped off. Mter the sighting about a dozen other people called the police to report seeing a similar object at the same time the police had their sightin g. 1o A woman in St. Joseph, Missouri, glanced out the window before going to bed and noticed an object with a brilliant red and blue l ight coming down near the front lawn of the house across the street. The object hovered approximately six feet above the street for about six minutes. The witness said she was too "petrified," surprised, and curious to move. At first the object was still, but then it began to rotate slowly and the witness saw a "ribbed shield" that extended "about 1 0 inches from the side of the circular object up and slanting inward toward the translucent dome." The object had a round bot­ tom, a h igh domed top, and blue and red lights glowing from inside it and flickering. It continued to rotate slowly, and af­ ter five or six minutes it gradually moved back in the direc­ tion from which it had come and drifted north. The witness looked through a pair of binoculars and found the object in the sky. Shortly another object joined it and "the two seemed to dart back and forth from north to south at very rapid speed for a time, then both shot upward out of sight at tremendous speed. • • n A group of people in Goldsboro, North Carolina, observed a triangular object with lights at each apex of the triangle. The entire object changed colors, blinking red, then green, and then yel l ow . At first the object was high in the sky, but then it "shot downward at tremendous speed" and hovered. The witnesses could hear a whirring sound at this time. The object seemed as big as a house and had three long legs with a "chute " extending from one side of it. The observers watched it for thirty minutes. Then the object slowly turned and rapidly flew across the sky in four to five seconds. 12 A Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, couple had what they described as a traumatic experience in December 1 973 when they noticed a very bright l ight in the sky while driving on Route 252. As they approached the light they thought it might be a plane in distress or about to land. One of the witnesses described it as h aving "two blue lights on the wings, and it kind of looked like a plane, but it was moving very slowly, parallel to the road, like it was observing us. We


1 973:

Echoes of the Past

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weren't alone on the road. There were plenty of other cars around, going in both directions." The noiseless object came to within fifty feet of the couple's car, and they saw that un­ derneath it seemed triangular with rounded edges and had a flashing red light in the center. The couple was too afraid to stop the car.1a This last case is similar to what UFO researchers have la­ beled car-chasing incidents. A good example occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where two sisters claimed that a cylindrical UFO, with red, yellow, and green lights, followed them for nearly eighty miles while what appeared to be its identical companion remained stationary in the sky. The next day they summoned the sheriff's office as they once again saw a UFO following them home. The sheriff also observed the object. "I know some people will think I'm crazy," the sister who was driving said, "but I know what I saw. "14 Th e next night, on October 1 1 , 1 97 3 , at 8 : 00 P.M. , a woman, her daughter, and her thirteen-year-old grandson were driving west of their home in Madisonville, Kentucky, when they spotted an egg-shaped object, which they estimated to be five or six feet long, giving off white, then red, pink, and blue lights that illuminated the road. The object was twenty to twenty-five feet in the air and began to follow them. The daughter, who was driving, was too scared to stop the car and continued to travel at speeds over seventy miles per hour. The silent object paced the car, turned when it did, and always stayed on the left. "I know it's hard to believe, but it's God's fact," said the mother. At the same time on the same night 1 00 miles west in Cairo, Illinois, four members of a family and a friend also reported a car-chasing incident. They claimed that a twenty-five-foot circular object, with red and white lights blinking in a circle, followed their car, slow­ ing down when it did, for five miles before the driver stopped. They all got out of the car and watched as the ob­ ject performed loops in the air, turned somersaults, stopped, backed up, and generally behaved erratically. The object stayed about one-half mile off the ground, and the witnesses heard no sound from it.15 A month later two Cameron County deputy sheriffs were driving prisoners from Brownsville, Texas, to the state peni­ tentiary in Huntsville when a strange object appeared over their station wagon early in the morning. The deputies found it d ifficult to discern the object's shape but said it had a red light on top and a yellow light on the bottom. The object


240

The UFO Con troversy in A merica

stayed at from fifty to sixty feet above the station wagon at all times and foll owed the car for twenty miles. When the driver speeded up, slowed down, or stopped, the object did the same. The sheriffs called police units in Ha rlingen and San Benito, Texas. These officers converged with the sheriffs near San Benito, and they all watched the object hover in the sky for thirty minutes before it zoomed straight up and disap­ peared. " 16 Another frequent feature of UFO sightings was electrical or mechanical effects on or interference with automobiles, ra­ dios, televisions, and the like. These incidents date back to 1 947, the beginning of the modem era of sightings, and 1 97 3-74 had its share of them. A woman in Osyka. Missis­ sippi, went outside to bum some trash and noticed an oblong, sh iny, aluminum-colored object in the sky. Her radio inside the house stopped working when the object passed overhead and came on again when the object moved out of sight. "It scared me so I'm still shaking," she told reporters. The police chief of Pierce, Nebraska, and other citizens observed a bril­ liant blue flashing light early one morning. The light was so bright that it turned off several street lights in the area which supposedly shut off automatically only when sufficient day­ light triggered a photosensitive device. Two deputy sheriffs investigating a ringing burglar alarm near Santa Cruz, Califor­ nia, were surprised to hear the alarm ringing in synchro­ nization with the blinking lights of an object hovering over the coast. The deputies said the alarm stopped ringing when the object disappeared.11 At times UFO appearances seemed to have a noticeable ef­ fect on animals, just as they did in the 1 896-97 wave. The majority of animal effect cases involved dogs barking at strange objets or else cowering and behaving uncharacteristi­ cally. However, witnesses reported that the appearance of a UFO affected other a nimals as well. For example, a dairy­ man spotted a strange object at 4 : 30 A.M. about forty miles northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It appeared to be taking off from his pasture and made a high-pitched, shrill , whistling sound. The object was silvery and had red or orange flashing lights. The witness saw it take off and land two more times before it shot straight up into the sky and vanished. The ob­ ject so frightened the dairyman's herd dog that he ran into the house and refused to come out. It also scared the herd of forty-two cows, which scattered around the pasture. Their


1 973: Echoes of the Past

1

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milk production was 1 00 pounds below normal for the next week,lB Som e people reported that strange objects affected them physically during a sighting. Often witnesses said they experi­ enced a tingling feeling or the sensation of heat or cold. Sometimes witnesses reported that alleged UFOs caused in­ juries. In Zeigler, Illinois, near Carbondale, a bright light awoke a woman early in the morning. She thought she had forgotten to tum her h allway light off. When she got out of bed she not ic ied that the light was coming from outside her house. She then saw an object about 60 feet off the ground and 400 feet away giving off an extremely intense light. She repeatedly tried to look at the light, but it burned her eyes and she bad to tum away each time. After fifteen minutes the object disappeared. The woman's eyes hurt after the sighting and that day she claimed that her vision was reduced . Four days later her eyes still bothered her.19 One of the strangest vision�affecting cases of the 1 97 3-74 wave occurred near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in early Octo­ ber 1 97 3 . The witness, a truck driver, and his wife were driv­ ing a tractor-trailer about dawn when be noticed, in his rear­ view mirror, an unusual lighted object about a mile behind them. Its lights glittered red and yellow, and the object trav­ eled at about four to five feet above the ground . The object rapidly moved up on the witness as he drove at sixty miles per hour. He told his wife about the lights, but she saw notbing out of the rearview mirror on her side of the cab. H e looked again, and this time be observed that the object was turnip shaped, about thirty feet in diameter, and very close behind the truck. It had three sections : the top and bottom sections were spinning and appeared to be made of aluminum or chrome; the middle section did not move and had red and yellow l ights on it that glittered and seemed to mix together The driver faced the windshield as the truck entered a patch of fog. Then he put his bead out the window, looked back again, and saw a spotlight come out of the object at the same time that it began to rise. He also heard for the first time a hum ming sound coming from the obje ct . The humming rose in pitch as the object rose in altitude. He thrust his head out a little farther and suddenly a bright white flash like a ball of fire struck him in the face. The instant this happened the noise stopped and the object disappeared. The driver pulled his head back in, put his h ands over his eyes, and screamed that he could not see. He stopped the truck in the middle of .


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

the h ighway. His wife, who had neither seen nor beard any­ thing, turned the light on in the cab and saw that her hus­ band's forehead was red and hot, the frames of his glasses were melted and twisted, and one lens had fallen out. An am­ bulance took the driver to the hosp ital where he received emergency treatment. His sight returned gradually, but five days later a St. Louis ophthalmologist found that the driver still had only 20 percent vision. Also, be complained of pain deep inside his forehead. Later a physicist examined the glasses and said the frames appeared to have been internally heated. 2 0

Perhaps some of the most puzzling and elusive cases, oc­ curring in previous s ighting waves as well as in 1 973-74, were those that seemed to have mental effects on witnesses. Al­ though subjective and d ifficult to pinpoint as the results of an object, these effects happened so often that serious UFO re­ searchers considered them a legitimate part of the UFO phe­ nomenon. For instance, a man and his family were fishing late at n ight near Madison, Wiscons in, when they saw three lights in the sky darting about and moving erratically. The man ran to another campsite to get other people's confirma­ tion of the sighting. As he returned to h is camp, he looked up again and saw another l ight. This one was bright orange, at a lower level than the other three, and h overed. When he looked at it be immediately rece ived the sensation that beings were inside the object and "they" saw and knew everything. The witness was terrified and said he felt he would not be able to m ake it back to his campsite. The feeling went away when the object d isappeared .21 In a s imilar case near Tulsa, Oklahoma, a husband, wife, and the ir ten-year-old daughter were in .their p ickup truck at 1 2 : 20 A.M. on October 17 when they saw a gigantic object with an intricate set of l ights on it. The object seemed big enough to dwarf a 747 jet. It came within 250 feet of the truck at one time, and the witnesses noticed four "prongs" with red lights on them coming out of the tail end and a white l ight in the object's center. The witnesses heard low­ pitched and h igh-pitched humming sounds. The driver stopped the truck and the family watched the object. During the sighting they experienced what they called an all-around­ you feeling, and they said they felt "powerless." The same night in Ohio two Adams County deputy sheriffs on routine patrol in the town of West Union saw an unusual obiect hanging about 200 feet in the sky. The arrangement of pul-

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sating, brilliant, red, green, blue, and white lights apparently made the object's shape difficult to discern. The amazed men watched as the object zigzagged and made tight circles in the sky. During this time they both felt mesmerized or transfixed as they watched the object.22 The 1 97 3-74 wave had its share of l anding cases. Reported since 1 896, they have represented some of the most unusual and sensational cases. Yet UFO researchers believed these cases were among the best to study because often a UFO would leave "proof' of its existence in the form of markings 1 on the ground. UFO researchers called these trace cases. In mid-October in Clay County, Mississippi, two witnesses reported independently that they had to swerve their vehicles into a ditch to avoi<l an elliptical object, with blue and orange lights, sitting in the middle of the road on legs about four to six feet in height. The next day one of the witnesses and other people searched the area where the sighting occurred and discovered that the grass on either side of the road was ' "burned and smelled like oil." They also found two padlike marks in the ditch.2a An Ohio National Guardsman reported seeing pulsating, bright lights in the night sky near his borne in Columbus. The lights swooped down in a zigzag pattern and disappeared be­ hind some trees. Later the man checked the area of the sup­ posed landing, a field of waist-high weeds, and found a semi­ oval area about twenty feet wide and thirty feet long of weeds crushed to the ground.24 One of the most interesting trace cases of the 1 973-74 wave occurred in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee . In the afternoon of September 30, 1 97 3 , a hunter quietly perched in a tree saw a white, fluorescent, perfectly round ball about ten feet in diameter silently glide across a nearby soybean field and pass directly in front of him. The object stopped about four feet above an old roadbed. Three legs unfolded from under the object and formed a tripod. Two legs came down on the roadbed and the third leg rested on the field next to it. A few ' seconds later the bunter heard two loud squawks which sounded like high-pitched crow calls. Although the witness could see no seams, windows, or openings in the object, sud­ denly a door, about three feet wide and four feet high, ap­ peared. It swung down to form a ramp. The bunter bad bad a cold and unconsciously sniffed. The object apparently de­ tected the sound because the door immediately snapped shut, the tripodal legs disappeared into the object, and it shot away


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The UFO Controversy in A merica

at a tremendous speed. The witness then saw a whitish vapor or fog where the object had landed. He climbed down from the tree and went to the landing site. Breathing the fog gave him the sensation that his lungs were about to burst. He ran out of the foggy area and was able to breathe normally in the fresh a ir. He returned to the spot (presumably after the fog had dissipated ) and found three spots of depressed grass where the tripodal legs h ad rested. The depressions were about eight inches long. 2 5 As fascinating as this case was, some of the 1 973-74 occupants reports overshadowed i t . These reports of alleged occu pants did not follow the contactee tradition. I nstead of having continual communication with space beings who imparted knowledge and a mission to the selected earth people, the witnesses of alleged occupants usually only caught a fleeting glimpse of the "beings . " The 1 964 Lonnie Zamora sighting, in which the police officer briefly saw two occupants beside an object on the ground, is a classic example of this type of report. Yet on rare occasions reputable witnesses claimed to h ave interacted with an occupant. So-called legitimate occu­ pant cases illustrate the more bizarre aspects of the UFO phenomenon. They required the most extensive and meticu­ lous investigation to eliminate hoaxes. For years occupant cases caused conflict within UFO organizations. Some investi­ gators wanted to avoid these cases because they smacked of contacteeism. Others wanted to accept and study them as a valid part of the phenomenon. By 1 97 3 most groups, including the conservative NICAP, regarded well-documented occu­ pant sighting cases as legitimate part of the UFO mystery. The following is an example of the most typical type of oc­ cupant sighting. The witness s aw the object and the occupant only briefly and had no interaction with the being. The sight­ ing began when the witness was driving home from work on a freeway in southern California and noticed a blimplike ob­ ject hovering over a crest of hills. The object sank below the hills and he lost sight of it. As he approached the top of a rise in the freeway, he looked down into the area where the object had descended . At first he saw nothing unusual, but as he continued driving he noticed what he described as dust ris­ ing from the canyon below the freeway. Curiosity made h im stop his car, back up fifty feet and get out to look into the canyon. He then observed, at a distance of from eighty to a hundred feet, a grayish pink object that resembled a giant Jaguar XKE car about fifty feet long and th irty feet wide. It

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1 973: Echoes of the Past

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hovered about ten feet above the ground. On one side it had what the witness thought was either a series of vents or an in­ signia in the shape of a large V with progressively smaller Vs inside it. A hose about eight feet long and one foot in diame­ ter protruded from the bottom of the object but did not touch the ground. The witness saw no doors or windows, but he no­ ticed a glasslike "bubble" three feet in diameter and swiveling like a ball on top of the object. He also discerned a colored mass inside the bubble. Suddenly the witness spotted an occupant crawling from the opposite side of the object toward the front. The occu­ pant appeared to be of normal size and dimensions and was wearing apparel that resembled a silvery or light-colored wet suit. The man did not get a good look at the occupant's face. The occupant looked at the witness and quickly scrambled to the other side of the object and disappeared. At the same time the witness heard a few clicking sounds coming from the UFO which reminded him of distant automatic weapons fire. With the occupant out of sight, the bubble rotated and disap­ peared inside the body of the object. The object made a whir­ ring or humming sound and a foglike substance, which ex­ uded a sweet incense-like odor, began to envelop it. Then suddenly the object just disappeared and the fog and scent dissipated quickly. The witness did not see it fly away or leave the area. After the sighting he told the police what he had seen. A week later a woman called the witness to tell him that she had seen a similar object in the same general area a week before.26 The case of a twenty-five-year-old woman in New Hamp­ shire was atypical and more bizarre because it contained physical and mental effects on the witness and because she claimed to have interacted with the alleged occupant. Driving home from work on Route 1 1 4A near Manchester, New Hampshire, at 4 : 00 A.M. in early November 1 973, the witness noticed a bright orange light in the sky that seemed to vanish and then reappear. She watched the object for about seven miles. She veered left on Route 1 1 4 and was amazed to see the object now larger, lower, and closer than before-about 1 , 600 feet in front of her. It looked like a large ball, honeycombed with a design of hexagons. In its up­ per left sector she saw what appeared to be an oval window of a paler color. The object had a "peculiar translucent qual­ ity about it." Red, green, and blue rays emanated from the center of the object. The woman heard a steady, high-pitched


24 6

The UFO Controversy in A merica

whine that she felt throughout her body as a tingling sensa­ tion. The witness panicked when she felt unable to remove her hands from the steering wheel. She felt that the object was drawing her toward it and she was unable to take her eyes off it. As she drove toward it, she claimed to have experienced memory loss during a half mile stretch, and she remembered nothing about it. Then she suddenly became aware of her surroundings and found herself and the car hurtling toward the UFO. She acknowledged after the sighting that she could have unconsciously been pressing on the accelerator because of fright. She approached to within 500 feet of the object whel). the whining noise grew louder. She now saw that the object was about 30 feet above the ground and noticed a fig­ ure in the window. The occupant was looking at her. She could see the being only from the waist up because a dark area obscured the lower part of its body. Its head was grayish, round, and dark on top. Its face had large egg-shaped eyes. Underneath the eyes the occupant's skin seemed loose or wrinkled like "ele­ phant's hide." The occupant's mouth turned down at the cor­ ners. The witness did not notice a nose or ears. As the witness looked, her attention riveted on the occupant's eyes, she claimed that she received an impression that the occupant was in some way telling her not to be afraid. Overcome by panic, she thought the UFO was about to capture her. The woman spied a house on the left side of the street at the same time that the object became so bright she covered her face with her arms. She turned the car half blindly into the driveway of the house and stopped across the front lawn. The witness was only three-fourths of a mile from her own home. She jumped out of the car, leaving the headlights and motor on, and a German shepherd dog charged up to her. Although usually afraid of strange dogs, the woman smacked the dog across the mouth, ran to the front door, and pounded on it, yelling "Help me! Help me ! " She looked over her shoulder and saw that the UFO, still making a whining noise, had moved across from the house. The witness found the whine unbearable. She pounded and yelled for about two minutes until the owner, who had been upstairs asleep with his wife, came to the door. The witness, panic-stricken, hys­ terical, and crying, grabbed the man, sank to her knees al­ most in a faint, and sobbed "Help me ! I'm not drunk! I'm


247

1 973: Echoes of th e Past

not on drugs ! A UFO ju st tried to pick me u p ! " The witness covered her ears w ith her hands, but the man heard nothing. By this time the man's wife had awakened and come downstairs. It was 4: 30 A.M. Afte r a few minutes in the cou­ ple's kitchen, the witness said the sound and tingling sensa­ tion h a d s top p ed but she n o ticed a spot in her vision similar to st a rin g too l ong at a b right light. The woman of the house called the police and an officer arrived about ten minutes later. He turned the he ad l ight s and motor off in the witness's c ar . After he arrived the four people went outside and saw a light some d ist a nce off moving sl ightly and changing colors. The ligh t appe a red to go off when the officer shined his spot­ l ight on it. When the local newspapers heard about the sight­ ing, the witness, fearful of ridicule, only mentioned the occu­ pant p h as e of the sighti ng b ri efly and in vague terms.27 Probably mu ch to the witness's relief, this case received little p ublicity except in UFO org a n izat io n literature and related journals. This was not so for the Pas c ag oul a , Missis­ sipp i incident, which ranks with the 1 947 Kenneth Arnold si ght ing and the 1 9 52 W ash ington D . C . , si ghtin gs as one of the most publicized and p ublicl y discussed cases on record. The incident occurred on October 1 1 , 1 97 3 , at the peak of th e 1 97 3 -74 wave. Calvin Parker ( nineteen years old ) and Charles Hickson ( forty-two years old ) , both from Gautier, Mi ss i ss i p pi , were fishing at the mouth of the Pasc agoul a River in Pascagoula when they became aware of a bu zz i ng sound. The men looked beh ind them and in st an tl y froze with fright as they saw a large, e gg sha p ed glowing object hovering a few feet above the ground and about forty feet fro m the river bank. The object, about ten feet wide and eight feet high, h ad blue l i ght s on the front of it and seemed to transmit a buzzing sound, l ike air escaping from a p re s su r e hose. Paralyzed with fear, the men watched as a door seemed to appear out of no thin g and three occupants came toward them. The occupants floated instead of walked and their legs did not move. The occupants were human-like, about five feet tall, with bul let-shap ed heads but no necks, pointed conical app endages j u tti ng s t ra igh t out where noses and ears would be, and a sl it for a mouth. The witnesses saw no eyes. They described the occupants' skin as light gray and re s embling el­ ep h a nt s skin with many wrinkles. The occupants had round feet and hands that looked like crab claws. Two of the o c cu pa n ts took h o l d of Hickson and the th ird grabbed Parker, who, overcome by fear, fai n ted Hi cks on ,

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The UFO Controversy in A merica

claimed that the occupants lifted him by putting their hands underneath his arms, at which time he felt a numbness in h is body, and then "floated" him into the UFO. Inside he found himself in a round and brightly lighted room, but he said he could not see the source of the light. As the two occupants held Hickson, an object resembling an eye and apparently not attached to anything appeared in front of him. The two occu­ pants moved Hickson in different positions in front of the ob­ ject, as if it were an examining device, and the apparatus also moved over his body during the "examination." The occu­ pants at one time seemed to communicate by making hum­ ming sounds. When the examination ended, the occupants left Hickson suspended in the middle of the air. He could not move except to blink and shift his eyes. Hickson thought the occupants had Parker in another room but was unable to tell for sure. After about twenty minutes from the time Hickson first saw the UFO, the occupants "floated" him outside and put him down. He was so weak-kneed that he fell over� He saw Parker crying and praying near him. Hickson then watched t1ie hissing object fly straight up into the sky and disappear almost instantly. Hickson calmed down his hysterical friend and the two ran from the area. At first they decided not to tell anyone about their experi­ ence, assuming that no one would believe them and that they would encounter a lot of ridicule. But then they thought the government might want to know what happened. They called Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and a sergeant there re­ ferred them to the sheriff. But afraid that the sheriff would not believe them, they drove to the local newspaper office to see a reporter. A janitor there told them the office was closed and suggested that they go see the sheriff, which they did at 1 0 : 3 0 that night. The next day the local press heard about the story and publicized it. The wire services picked it up, and within a few days it became sensational news across the country. The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) sent one of its consultants, University of California engineer­ ing professor James Harder, to investigate. J. Allen Hynek also went to Pascagoula, and he and Harder interviewed the witnesses. Harder hyponotized Hickson but had to break off the hypnosis when Hickson found it too painful and frighten­ ing to go on. The hypnosis, Harder said, was too soon after the traumatic event. On the night of the sighting the local


1 973: Ech oes of the sheriff bad put Hickson

Past

249

and Parker in a room equipped with

h idd en s ound m o n itori ng equipment and thought they would reveal the h o ax when left alone, but the two me n passed this "test" to the s atis fa ct io n of the authorities. Eventually Charles H icks on to ok a lie detector test which be passed. Hynek -

and Harder believed the events bad happened as the wit­

nesses bad d es cribed them. After in terview ing the two men, Hynek said be was certain that they had h ad " a very real, fr ightening experience." He said this "fantastic" experi­ ence " s h oul d be taken in contexc witb experiences that othe r s have had els ewhe re in th is country and in the w o rl d. Later, news pape rs and television, which gave Hynek as much pub­ l ic i ty for this s ighting as for the 1 9 6 6 swamp gas episode, quo ted him as saying "there was d efinitel y something here that was not terrestrial."28 The 1 97 3-74 wave echoed previous s i ghting waves, includ­ ing the a irsh ip s of 1 89 6-97, in many respects. The large vari­ ety of reports, ranging from high-level, n octu rnal meander ing l ights to occup ant encounter cases, and the disparate p e opl e who made them, ranging fr om children to policemen, were common elements in all s igh ting waves. The 1 973-74 w ave also had i ts share of r ad ar reports and photographs of UFOs as well as a few motion pictures of obj ects. As in the past, people in rural areas made most of the reports, but many cit­ izens in ur ban areas also reported s eeing s trange objects Per­ haps the most unifyi ng element was fear. Witnesses through­ out the UFO c o ntroversy , from 1 89 6 on, reported, first, that their sightings frightened them and s ec o nd that as a result of relating their experiences they feared public ridicule. Thus some witnesses preferred anonymi ty while others took great care to explain that they were not lunatics, drunk, or on drugs, and that they saw what the y s ai d th ey saw. In the 1 9 73-74 wave, as in previous si gh ting waves, hoaxes and the "

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media's treatment of them compounded the witness ridicule problem. Hoaxes seemed more widespread than they actuall y were because of publicity and thus cast doubt on what repu­ table people reported and on the l eg i tim acy of t he UFO phe­ nomenon. Yet in many ways the 1 9 7 3-74 w ave was different from previous waves. For the first time s ince 1 947 the Air Force stayed on the sidelines. In al l previous sighting waves, es­ pecially since the large one in 1 9 52, the Air Force had acted as the official body that made pronouncements and judgments about the reports. It had served as a restraining influence, es-


250

Th e UFO Controversy in A merica

pecially on scientists and members of the press interested in the subject. Through its press releases, its system of classifying reports, and its assumed authority and expertise on the subject, the Air Force had pushed public opinion toward dis­ believing and ridiculing UFO witnesses and denying that UFOs were an anomalous phenomenon. In 1 969 the Air Force gave up its role as overseer of the phenomenon. From then on it refused to investigate any UFO sightings and usu­ ally told people who reported them to call their local police departments. It made one exception and cursorily investigated the Pascagoula case, but it did not release conclusions to the press. Thus in 1 973-74, without the Air Force's influence, and without an official government body assuring the public that it had found no evidence to suggest that UFOs were ex­ traterrestrial, or even anomalous or extraordinary, the Ameri­ can people for the first time in twenty-five years could in­ dulge in unrestrained interest in the phenomenon. Not only could the public speculate more freely about UFOs, but it could also take a fresh look. The 1 97 3-74 wave came at a time when many people thought "flying saucer scares" were a quaint, and somewhat ludicrous, part of the 1 950s and, to a lesser extent, the 1 9 60s. The Air Force and the Condon committee had solved the UFO mystery, the pub­ lic thought, and lack of widespread publicity about UFO sightings seemed to prove this. Therefore the sighting wave in the early 1 970s generated a certain amount of surprise and shock in the country. It stimulated people to confront the UFO mystery anew and to take a fresh look at a phenome­ non that refused to take its place with outmoded fads and crazes. The very persistence of the phenomenon may have contributed to the change in public attitudes toward UFOs. Also, the 1 973-74 wave was the first since the historic 1 969 manned moon l anding. Although the impact of the moon landing is unclear, it may have made extraterrestrial hypothe­ ses more acceptable : if people on earth could visit other heavenly bodies, then possibly others from the skies could visit earth. Moreover, in the early 1 970s scientists increas­ ingly began to say that the probability for life existing else­ where in the universe seemed fairly high, and the media widely publicized the efforts of astronomers like Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, both of Cornell University, who were ac­ tively searching for extraterrestrial l ife. Furthermore, the 1973-74 wave came at a time when many scientists had publicly expressed interest in the UFO

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1 97 3:

Echoes of the Past

25 1

phenomenon. In the middle and late sixties, as a result of dis­ satisfaction with the Air Force's and the Condon committee's "solutions," many scientists privately began studying the phe­ nomenon. The Air Force's exit from the UFO battles and its release of its accumulated sighting reports removed a barrier that had long hindered scientific interest and research in the subject. Thus by 1 9 7 3 many scientists had already researched the phenomenon extensively and began to present new methods of studying UFOs, especially through the use of computers. The incipient scientific interest in UFOs that had started in 1 965 progressed quietly in the early 1 970s without fanfare or major publicity. In March 1 974 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics revitalized its UFO subcommit­ tee, which had laid dormant for several years because its chairman, Joachim Keuttner, was working in England. The subcommittee decided to petition for full committee status so that it could remain permanently active. In addition, many scientists teaching at small colleges around the country inde­ pendently organized a variety of courses on the UFO phe­ nomenon.29 One of the most ambitious of the scientific research proj­ ects on UFOs took place in mid- 1 9 7 3 under the direction of Harley D. Rutledge, who was chairman of the physics depart­ ment at Southeast Missouri State College, a former president of the Missouri Academy of Sciences, and skeptical about UFOs. Rutledge, James E. Sage ( an electronics professor at Southeast Missouri State College ) , and several graduate students achieved a unique feat : they succeeded in photo­ graphing and taking scientific measurements of high-level uni­ dentified flying objects over a seven-month period in 1 97 3 . Rutledge and his colleagues h a d at least seventy sightings, and they measured speed, distance, and altitude for many of them. Rutledge classified twenty-three sightings as strange ob­ jects that he thought might be aircraft although they did not exhibit aircraft characteristics. Another twenty-seven he cat­ alogued as sightings of lights that turned on and off in the sky or had "extraord inary" flight characteristics. And he listed twenty-one sightings as lights that behaved so puzzlingly that he called them "incred ible or b izarre-miracles of physi­ cal scien ce." Rutledge said that at his first sighting of lights he knew he was investigating "very mysterious phenomena. " 30 At the front of the growing corps of scientists actively re­ searching the UFO phenomenon stood Hynek. After twenty-


252

The UFO Controversy in A merica

six years of nearly continual involvement with UFOs, he had become the premiere authority on the subject. His unique position as the only man in the country to have studied firsthand the entire history of the phenomenon since 1 94 8 made him the one unifying link with the UFO controversy in previous years. Remarkably, he had successfully steered through the treacherous waters of emotionalism, anger, and ridicule during the early years and had emerged practically unscathed. He had gone from initial hostility toward the subject to skepticism and misgivings, to cautious calls for more study, to muted criticism of the Air Force, and eventually to open hostility toward the Air Force and complete acceptance of the idea that UFOs represented potentially one of the most serious problems he had confronted. His change was gradual and often agonizing. Although others had roundly, and at times deservedly, attacked him for his actions or inactions during the first ten years of the controversy, he had survived this criticism and emerged as an activist in the fight to gain scientific legitimacy for the UFO phenomenon. In 1 9 7 3 , at the age of sixty-four, Hynek became more in­ volved with intensive UFO research than ever before in his career. He established the first UFO study group under the complete direction of scientists, the Center for UFO Studies in Northfield, Illinois. The Center consisted of scientists, en­ gineers, and other professionals who donated their time to study specific problems arising from UFO reports. The research involved five main areas : analysis of soil and plants that a UFO m ay h ave affe cted, medical examination of people and animals affected, theoretical studies of UFO movements and luminescent properties, psychological studies of witness credibility, and photographic and spectrographic analyses of UFOs. The Center also had a computer data bank for information retrieval and analysis of reports. Hynek arranged with the Mutual UFO Network ( MUFON ) to have its investigators send reports to the Center. In addition, Hy­ nek sent a toll-free number to every major police department in the country so that they could phone in reports. The Cen­ ter for UFO Studies functioned in much the same way as the Air Force had claimed to function, and Hynek hoped that, with the cooperation of NICAP and APRO as well as MUFON, it would become a national clearinghouse for sight­ ing reports. 3 1 The three established UFO organizations, somewhat lethar­ gic because of the Condon report's effect, began to revive in ·

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1 97 3:

Echoes of the Past

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the early 1 970s and especially as a result o f the 1 9 7 3-74 wave. NICAP underwent personnel and policy changes dur­ ing this time. John Acuff, a management and marketing ex­ pert, became chairman of the NICAP B oard of Governors in 1 970. He clashed with Stuart Nixon, director of NICAP, over organization and financial policy, and N ixon left the organiza­ tion at the end of 1 97 3 . Acuff was determined to pull NI­ CAP out of its long-standing financial difficulties and did not h ire a replacement for N ixon_. Instead he decided to direct the organization h imself more along the l ines of a small business, and he h ired a person to manage the daily affairs and help edit the UFO Investigator. NICAP's financial and organizational problems since Keyhoe's retirement had forced it to concentrate on keeping alive. It received a boost in 1 9 7 4 when Senator Barry Goldwater agreed to join the board of governors. Goldwater had been interested in UFOs since the e arly years of the controversy and had no qualms about ex­ pressing his belief in the extraterrestrial hypothesis to the press. Many NICAP members hoped that Acuff' s new poli­ cies and Goldwater's activities would help pull the organiza­ tion out of its seemingly unending financial and organiza­ tional d ifficulties.a2 APRO also went through a realignment in its staff in 1 97 3 . Richard Greenwell, the assistant director, resigned early in the year and the Lorenzens reassumed more direct control over the organization. They continued APRO's increasingly successful program of scientific symposiums and added to its scientific consulting staff, which consisted of forty members by mid- 1 9 74. As a result o f the 1 9 73-74 wave, APRO's mem­ bership increased to levels approaching the high point in 1 967, before the Condon report. The A .P.R .O. Bulletin car­ ried some of the most thoroughly investigated foreign and do­ mestic sighting reports available in the United States.33 MUFON thrived during 1 97 3 as scientists, engineers, and other professional people volunteered their time for analysis and investigation of UFO reports. MUFON's annual UFO symposiums enjoyed continuing success, and its magazine,. Skylook, took on a new professional look reflecting the or­ ganization's growing influence in UFO research, under Walt Andrus's d irection. Scientific support for Hynek's center and public interest in the three n ational organizations indicated the subtle change in society's attitudes toward the UFO phenomenon in general and the 1 9 7 3 -74 wave in particular. Scientists, the news


254

The UFO Controversy in A merica

media, the general public, and even the Air Force seemed less opinionated about UFOs, less enmeshed in the traditional lirie of reasoning, and more willing to suspend judgment on the phenomenon. The 1 973-74 sighting wave lacked the emo­

tionalism and rancor that had characterized the opposing viewpoints in the waves of the 1 9 50s and 1 9 60s. In general, society seemed more open than ever to the theory that the UFO phenomenon might be legitimate regardless of the ob­ jects' ori gins. The bitter battles of previous years had ended, and only the phenomenon remained . Yet not all the battle scars had healed, and the spectrum of opinion on UFOs was as wide as ever. The 1 973-74 wave brought out a resurgence of an aspect

long a part of the UFO controversy : the urge to explain. This mechanism was mainly at work in the scientific and academic communities, where many people refused to acknowledge that witnesses had observed extraordinary or potentially anomalous objects or that the subject deserved systematic at­ tention. The academics voiced the familiar refrains that had become a staple in all the sighting waves. Psychologists and psychiatrists most frequently used the hoary societal-stress­ and-anxiety explanation. "Mass hysteria," "collective h alluci­ nations," "UFO hysteria," publ ic "suggestibility"-these, the psychologists said , explained why people reported UFOs. So­ cial scientists related UFO reports to societal and political a nxieties in 1 973, which presumably were higher than in pre­ vious years.34 Astronomers u sually found that people were actually seeing stars, planets, other astronomical bodies, and disintegrating satellites. Several astronomers asserted that people could not possibly be seeing anomalous craft because of the great dis­ tances between the stars, too great for humans to traverse. Some astronomers used simple reason to deny the legitim acy of the problem. Why would UFOs visit the insignificant planet Earth, they asked rhetorically, and why would they visit remote places on earth? Some l imited their remarks on the subject to p araphrasing the National Academy of Sci­ ences's review of the Condon report : the extraterrestrial hy­ pothesis was the least l ikely explanation for UFO reports. Other scientists in other fields had their own pet theories. A chemist explained a rash of sightings in Piedmont, Missouri, as being "a combination of stars, airplanes, reflecting sun­ light, excess moisture, and hot plasma gas." A physician theorized that UFOs were "specks of antimatter. "311

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The urge to explain d id not confine itself to those new to the UFO controversy. Thornton Page, a member of the 1 953 Robertson p anel, who also bad helped organize the 1 969 American Association for the Advancement of Science Sym­ posium on UFOs, asserted that the great distances between stars ruled out the p ossibility that UFOs were extraterrestrial. Besides, be asked, why would extraterrestrials want to visit earth? Astronomer Carl Sagan also relied on the distance-be­ tween-stars theory. Isaac Asimov explained that one sighting set off others like a "mania." He said the first sighting in the 1973-74 wave was the Pascagoul a incident and the rest multi­ plied from it. "There is no such thing as a single UFO sight­ ing, " he declared .as Phil Klass, busy at work on a new book that would "solve" the UFO mystery, got in h is licks as well. He told United Press International that "there simply is not a shred of physi­ cal evidence [for UFOs] after more than 25 years of sight­ ings. Quite literally. Not a shred, in any of the tens of thou­ sands of UFO sightings that h ave been reported, that you could take before the National Academy of Sciences and ask : 'Have you ever seen its l ike on Earth?' " Curiously, Donald Menzel remained quiet on this UFO wave, but Edward U. Condon, apparently unable to detach himself from the con­ troversy, gave his views to a Florida newsman. He said that UFO reports were "pretty much fantasy stuff." Ninety per­ cent of the sigh tings coul d be explained, be claimed, and "the other 1 0 % o nly bad vague details." This was one of the embattled physicist's last statements on the subject. Condon d ied in March 1 974, after a prolonged bout with heart dis­ ease.37 Although the great majority of scientists who made state­ ments to the press came out against the idea that UFOs represented an anomalous phenomenon, a small number of scientists advocated impartiality. Most of these stressed the need for an open mind about UFOs because of the probabil­ ity of extraterrestrial life. They admitted the possibility that people saw extraordinary things and did not just m isidentify known phenomena. Some cautioned about the "unscientific" stance of dismissing reports automatically because they seemed ridiculous. Others suggested that scientists pay serious attent ion to the subject.as Just a s the wave el icited scientists' explanations and op in­ ions, as in the past it also brought out widespread newspaper coverage. Ed itorial writers adopted a sl ightly d ifferent tone


256

The UFO Controversy in A merica

than they had used previously. The frustration evident in so many editorial s advocating a thorough study of UFOs during the 1 965-67 wave was absent in 1 97 3 . Few newspapers called for a governmental study and virtually no newspapers called for the Air Force to "do something." Like the scientists, newspaper editorial writers exhibited a wide range of opinion on UFOs. Of the newspapers that con­ sidered the sighting wave nonsense, most gave the standard reasons that the p ress had used since 1 947. Some editorials likened UFOs to the Loch Ness monster, and some called the wave a product of the "silly season." "Benign hysteria" or the "power of suggestion" supplied easy answers for others.s9 These views were in the minority, however, and the major­ ity of the press adopted a neutral attitude toward the phe­ nomenon. Some newspapers considered the wave simply a pleasant and harmless diversion from the world's ills, and a few reflected that the UFO wave had a nostalgic quality to it. For instance, the Washington, D . C. Star-News said the reappearance of UFOs was a "nice reprise from the 1 9 60s, in retrospect a simpler age." Many journalists advocated keeping an open m ind because intelligent life probably existed else­ where in the universe. Most of the newspapers that recog­ nized the legitimacy of the UFO problem claimed, as did some scientists, that given the probabilities of life in space, one had to assume that some of the sightings were valid and some of the UFOs extraterrestriai.•o Many newspaper columnists also seemed more disposed in 1 973-74 to accept the validity of the phenomenon than they had been in the past. Syndicated columnist and popular radio commentator Paul Harvey wrote seriously about UFOs, dis­ cussing Harley Rutledge's study and Hynek's views. Lydel Sims, in the Memph is Commercial A ppeal, equated people's ready acceptance of polticians' statements on world affairs with people's ready rejection of UFO reports. He called it "gullicism," made up of "equal parts of abject gull ibility and uninformed skepticism," and thought the country needed a lot less of both. Roscoe Drummond continued his efforts to give the subject legitimacy by writing two columns in succes­ sive weeks saying "UFOs are real" and advocating attempts at communication with the extraterrestrials. Others columnists claimed that the evidence suggested "there does seem to be something out there" or urged the public to believe people who reported UFOs. Even Walter Sullivan, science editor of the New York Times, who, in the introduction to the paper-

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back edition of the Condon report, had severely criticized those who accepted the legitimacy of the UFO problem, had changed his view somewhat in the early 1 970s. He wrote that although hoaxes, misidentifications, and the like accounted for most sightings, a small residue of perplexing cases re­ mained, and some of these "involved seemingly reliable ob­ servers and could not be dismissed out of hand."4t Yet several columnists still took hostile and uninformed stands. Nationally syndicated columnist Clayton Fritchey called UFOs a figment of the imagination and people who ac­ cepted reports of UFOs true believers and gullible. Lawrence Maddry labeled people who reported UFOs "Utterly foolish odd-balls," "mentally infirm," "drunks, deadbeats, hot-gospel goodfellows, goatherders, pool hall perverts, and other glau­ coma cases with eyeglasses thicker than bulletproof windows." They were "all seeking and getting headlines," he claimed.42 Many people could not help but treat the phenomenon hu­ morously. Since 1 89 6-97, political cartoonists had found UFOs an effective vehicle for their statements. The 1 973-74 wave, coming at a time of domestic political problems, presented rich material. Some political cartoonists linked the circular UFO to the disputed circular White House tapes in the Watergate scandal. Cartoonist Herblock drew a man looking at an occupant talking to him from a UFO after the man had finished reading a newspaper with articles on Water­ gate, Nixon's finances, Agnew's resignation, inflation, and fuel shortages. The caption read : "On The Other Hand, Can You Rule Out Anything Anymore?"43 All the humor did not take a political form. A short poem, reminiscent of the 1 896-97 wave, made the point : I never saw a flying saucer, I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I'd rather see than be in one.44 The 1 973-74 wave did not receive the magazine coverage other waves had. Life and Look h ad folded in the early 1 970s before the wave and most other magazines and jour­ nals virtually ignored the sightings. Only four major articles on UFOs and the 1 973-74 wave appeared in popular maga­ zines. Rolling Stone, the rock music and counterculture mag­ azine which expanded its scope to articles on politics and cur-


258

The UFO Controwrsy in A mnica

rent new·s, featured a long article on the Pascagoula incide nt. Writing in th e b reezy "new journalism" st}ie of the Tom

Wolfe school, the author described th e town and its lead ing citizens in an often biting and uncomplimentary ma nn e r. He was fair and accurate in his details of the actual si ghting but concentrated on the incident's impact on the townspeople

rather than on the scientific impli cati ons of the sighting.45 Newsweek gave the s ighting wave a tongue-in-cheek

and skeptical treatme nt. It hinted that the Pascagoula sighting was a hoa."t, h aving "as m uch m oons hin e as stardust in the story."

U.S. News

and World R eporfs article took the L'FO repo rts

s e riously. It p os i ted an explanation for the sight ings : they were a " freakish--b ut very real and natural�lectronic phenomenon" that resembled ball lightning. In experiments

in a private laboratory, the magazine explained, scientists ignited ammonia with a high-voltage spark and pro­ duced a one-inch round mass of glov.ing gas that darted about. This experiment, reminiscent of Phil Klass's b all l ight­ ning theories and Donald :Menzel's bell jar demonstrations in the early 1 950s, accounted for " pe rha p s all" UFO sight­ ings--a.cco rding to an unnamed scientist and U.S. News and World Report.-46 Perhaps the best article of the four, in terms of the treat­ m e nt of th e phenomenon, appeared in Cosmopolitan . Th is was Cosmopolitan's first article on UFOs since Bob Con­ sidine, with Air Force sponsorship, attacked the su bj e c t and L'FO witnesses in 1 95 1 . In a total reversal fr om the 1 9 5 1 p iece, journalist Ralph B lum wrote an impartial review o f the scope of the L'FO phenomenon. including some of the more bizarre sightings and incidents, and seriously considered the extraterrestrial hypothesis.47 Donald Keyhoe, now seventy-five years old, released his fifth boo k on UFOs in 1 9 7 3 . Call ed A liens From Space, the book traced Keyhoe's trials and tribulations in his b attle v.ith the Air Force and the government when he attempted to end official secrecy ab out L'FOs and initiate congressional hear­ ings on the m atter. Keyhoe had at last discovered the identity of his old nemesis, the silence group : it was the Central Intel­ ligence Agency. He told how the CIA had directed the Robertson p anel and then h ad orchestrated the Air Force's program to thwart NICAP's e ffo rts to re veal the truth about UFOs. Keyhoe also d es c n'bed his d ispute v.ith the Condon committee and roundly criticized its report. For Keyhoe the most impo rtant pan of the boo k was Operation Lure, a plan conducted

'


1 973: Echoes of the Past

259

to induce UFOs down to a prescribed meeting place so that the United States could make official contact with their occu­ pants. Keyhoe wanted to set aside a l arge parcel of vacant l and, allow no planes to fly over it, and build a l arge model of a UFO to attract the attention of the aliens. The area would also contain "education bu ild ings" stacked with "a variety of exhibits intended to interest the UFO crews." Hid­ den television cameras and m icrophones would record the aliens' reactions. Eventually live contact would take plac�.4 8 Keyhoe's book indicated a change i n h is attitude toward occupant reports. Although Keyhoe had in the past refused to accept these reports because of their similarity to the infa­ mous contactee stories, he now admitted the reality of the Lonnie Zamora sighting and other fleeting sightings of occu­ pants yet balked at occupant-witness interaction cases.49 Publishers quickly capitalized on renewed interest in the phenomenon in 1973 by reprinting a barrage of books on UFOs. Frank Edwards's and John Fuller's books appeared in bookstores once again as did French UFO investigator Aime Michel's 1 956 book, The Truth A bout Flying Saucers. The contactees enjoyed a minor resurrection as well. George Adamski's Flying Saucers Farewell ( 1 9 6 1 ) , wherein he recounted for the last time philosophical conversations with the space brothers, and Howard Menger's "fact/fiction" From Outer Space resurfaced with new covers and assumed their old role of confusing the public about which UFO re­ ports were reputable and which were not.�>o By far the biggest economic bonanza for publishers came not in reprinting old books but in publishing new ones on ex­ traterrestrial visitation in ancient times. Although UFO re­ searchers had published books with similar themes for over twenty years, Erich von Dliniken, the Swiss writer, hit the publishing jackpot with his wildly successful Chariots of the Gods? A big seller in Europe before it appeared in American markets, its success in this country was unparalleled. Von Daniken theorized that the "gods" of m any ancient cults and religions may have been extraterrestrial visitors. He went fur­ ther th an th is, though . He posited the theory that the ex­ traterrestrials might have l anded, lived with the people, and offered basic technological help and skills. Von Dliniken's evi­ dence consisted of myth, legend, ancient drawings and paintings, and artifacts from ancient societies around the world, particularly those in Latin America. 51 Although von Daniken had a certain amount of evidence


2 60

to

The

UFO Controversy i n A merica

b ack up his ideas, be failed to discuss a wide range of an­ thropological th eo rie s that may have accounted for the data or to grant to anc i e nt people the intelligence and creativity they deserved. N eve rthel e ss, the b ook was stimu l a ti n g e n ough to provoke widespread discussion. and eventually von Dli.niken pub l is h ed two more books es pous ing the same theories. :>2 He also contributed to a television show and movie b ased on his ideas. Other au th ors, see ing go ld in the "gods," rushed to p artake in von Diiniken's success. In li ttl e more th an a year, o ver a do ze n books came out with the same gen­ eral theme of extraterrestrial int e rven t i o n in ancient times. Moreover, they ei th e r bad the word god in their t itl es or bad the same block l ettering styl e as von Diiniken's book covers. As a spin-off of the von Diiniken craze, the public became interested in the so-call e d Bermud a Triangle, an en o rm ously large area of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Mysteri­ ous disappearances of planes and ships since 1 945 bad caused spe culati o n about their fa te. In 1 97 3 John Wallace Spencer 'Wrote a b ook claiming that in s om e way UFOs had either kidna pped the ships and pl anes and their crews or caused them to disappear. Spencer ·went on a n ati on al tour promot­ ing his book, and sales and profits swelled . 53

Although the contactees th e ms e lves did n o t make a come­ back in the 1 9 70s, th e wave of s ighting reports thrust a few of them into the press again. Daniel Fry's "Understanding units," still in existence, continued to bold meetings with speakers who cl aim ed to be on intimate terms with space brothers. Contactee Hal Wilcox, who bad visited other pl ane ts, spo ke on "Chariots and Other Vehicles" at one meet­ ing. Dr. Frank Stranges, an evangelist turned contactee sup­ porter who once 'Wrote a book revealing the hitherto un­ known facts that sp a ce brothers bad infiltrated the Pentagon and even conversed with Pres id ent Kennedy, made the news as the sponsor of a contactee-oriented space and sci en ce na­ tional co nve n ti on :>t The early 1 970s bred a new type of con ta ctee The new contactees e volved from th e popular fasc in ati o n in the late 1 9 60s and early 1 970s with the occult and the psychic. They claimed to possess p s ychi c powers and abilities and either al­ leged, as did th e popular Israeli psychic Uri G ell e r, that their psychic powers derived from a close encounter with a UFO or that they, through their special talents, communicated with space brothers. Psychic Ray Stanford belonged to th is latter group. He claimed in 1 9 7 4 that b e may have had many meet.

.

�­


1 973:

Echoes of the Past

26 1

ings w ith space pe opl e and had taken motion pictures of UFOs on several occasions. One of the m otion pi cture s , h e said , was a spectacular film of a UFO that the Air Force h ad analyzed and c l ass ifi ed as unide n t ifi e d-the o nl y unidentified film in Air Force files. B u t Air Force records show th at it classifi ed the obj ect in S tanford' s film as Venu s-pos i t ively identified. Like the co n tact ees of th e 1 950s, the new contact­ ees in the e arl y 1 970s added yet ano ther confus in g element to the UFO contr ove rsy . B y linking psyc hi c and occul t phe­ nomen a to UFOs, the new contactees thr e a te ned to compli­ cate the subj ect even more for th e p u b li c. 55 Televis ion, however, somewhat prevented this confusion from escalating. Whereas in p revious ye ars television h ad aided the contactees' cause, in 1 97 3-74 in the m a in it d i d not couple either th e old or new conta ctee s with UF Os. During the e arl ier sighting waves, tel e vis io n news h ad concentrated on giving vent to contactee cl a ims or ridi cu l ing legitimate UFO reports as part of a national "sill y season." But in 1 973-74, for the first time television news squ arely con fronted

the UFO p roblem. CBS, NB C, and ABC gave the UFO sight­ ings th e fairest and mo s t impartial co vera g e the networks b ad ever gi ve n the subject. CBS and ABC nightly news shows c ar­ ried twcrminute and three-minute news features on th e UFO s ightings and no ti ce abl y refrained from tongue-in-cheek hu­ mor, "silly season" edito rializin g, or ridiculing witnesses. NBC's John Chancellor took the boldest stand of the network commentators. In his Octo be r 1 8, 1 973, n ewscas t, Ch ancellor summ ed up wh at seemed to be the p revailing opinion among broadcasters : "Many people would l ike the UFOs to go away. But the UFOs won 't go away, and m any scientists are taking them very se ri ous l y . It's likely that we will hear more and more about the UFOs." In fact, th e only m ajor exception to th e new television n ews stance was CBS newsm an Hughes Rudd, who co nt inu all y resorted to sarcasm and rid i cul e when he read news accounts of UFO sigh tings. Th e only prime time dram atic show to h ave a plot capital­ izing on the in te rest in UFOs was CBS's M arch 3 1 , 1 974, ep­

isod e of "Apple's Way." The l e ad in g character spo tted a UFO, underwent severe ridicule as he b ravely told his story to the public and the press, and then encountered several contactee types and lunatics who confided their experiences with the space brothers to h im . No one on the show sp ok e of reputable UFO witnesses. In the end th e hero d iscovered that he actu ally saw a secret weather device. The sho w left the


262

·

The UFO Controversy in A merica

viewer with the inference that UFOs were misidentifications of known phenomena and that most UFO witnesses were crazy. Generally the many syndicated and network talk shows so popular in the late 1 960s and early 1 970s gave UFOs the most attention. Of talk show hosts, David Susskind reacted most antagonistically toward the subject. When he featured a show with author John Fuller, UFO rese a rch er Stanton Friedman, Betty Hill ( of the 1 9 6 1 Barney and Betty Hill ab­ duction case ) , and · m ilitant UFO debunker Phil Klass, Susskind indulged in heavy ridicule, taunting comments, and general derision of hi s guests and the subject during the entire show. Susskind's attitude, however, was not typical. The hosts of the NBC "Today" show discussed the subject seriously with Friedman, Hynek, and Ralph Blum who, with his wife Judy, wrote a book about his investigation of UFOs during 1 973 . The program with the Blums also included Congressman Roush of Indiana, who had chaired the 1 968 House hearings on UFOs and was a member of the NICAP board of gover­ nors, and Air Force general and astronaut James A. McDiv­ itt, who had sighted a UFO while aboard the Gemini IV m is­ sion and who believed the subject deserved serious attention. NBC's late-night ''Tomorrow" show devoted one full pro­ gram to UFOs. Host Tom Snyder, a Los Angeles newsman, talked with Hynek, James A. Harder, the University of Cali­ fornia engineering professor who had hypnotized one of the Pascagoula witnesses, and Phil Klass. Most of the discussion consisted of a dispute between the two scientsts and Klass. As the 1 973-74 wave continued, the "Tomorrow" show displayed some confusion about the reputable UFO phenomenon by having some minor contactees on. The ''Tonight Sh ow" with Johnny Carson had very little on UFOs per se, but Carson did interview Erich von Daniken and Bermuda Triangle au­ thority John Wallace Spencer. Without doubt, "The Dick Cavett Show" (ABC) presented the best discussion of the UFO phenomenon on television. Cavett opened his November 2nd ninety-minute show with a half hour interview with Charles Hickson, who calmly and articulately described the events of the Pascagoula incident. Then Hynek, astronomer Carl Sagan, John Wallace Spencer, astronaut James McDivitt, and army helicopter pilot Laurence Coyne talked about the UFO w ave. (Several months before the show Coyne a,nd his crew of four had had


1 973: Echoes of the

Past

263

a close encounter with a UFO in their helicopter. ) Cavett did

not engage in ridicule, and the p articipants discussed the sub­ ject calmly and seriously. The 1 973-74 wave prompted several ambitious television projects. In M ay 1 974 NBC, after an abortive start in Octo­ ber 1 97 3 , began production on a news documentary concen­ trating on the changing societal reactions to the UFO phe­ nomenon over the years. Hynek and producer Craig Leake were working on the program, and it promised to be the b est news presentation on UFOs to date.li6 Independent film m aker and producer Allan Sandler began to produce a highly popularized television and motion picture semi-documentary on UFOs in 1973. Surprisingly, Sandler obtained complete Air Force support for the production. The Air Force appeared to be engaging in a dramatic but low­ keyed reversal of policy. Instead of telling Sandler to obtain his information from the Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, it decided to cooperate with him in every way possible. Even though the Air Force knew that the script mildly criticized it and suggested i n­ creased study of UFOs, it assigned a public information of­ ficer to look after Sandler's needs and to give him virtually everything be wanted for the show. The Air Force approved the appearances on the show of former Project Blue Book directors Hector Quintanilla and Robert Friend as well as other Air Force personnel. Furthermore, rumor had it that the CIA also supported the project. Whatever the reasons the Air Force may have had for cooperating with Sandler, through this open policy the Air Force circumvented poten­ tial charges of secrecy, collusion, and dishonesty and thereby removed itself as an easy target for criticism. 57 The 1 973-74 sighting wave, as all other sighting waves, had an impact on American public opinion. A November 1 973 Gallup Poll indicated that 51 p ercent o f adult Americans be­ lieved UFOs were "real" and not products of imagination or hallucination. Furthermore, 1 1 percent, a projected fift een million people, said they had seen a UFO, which was more than double the 5 percent figure in 1 966. The poll showed that UFO sightings were not confined to any particular popu­ lation group. College-educated people reported seeing UFOs as often as those with less education. But p eople living in the eastern p art of the United States saw fewer UFOs than people living in the north, west, or south. The poll also re­ vealed the remarkable statistic that 95 percent of the adult


264

The

UFO Controversy i n A merica

pop ulatio n in the United States had read or h eard about UFOs. This awareness was one of the highest in the history of th e Gallup Polls. s s Here was a phenomenon that virtually the entire adult pop­ ulation of the United States had heard about. and that mil­ lions of peopl e claimed to have se e n , yet after twenty-seven

years

no one knew for sure what it vtas . The controversy ov er unidentified flying objects, from 1 8 96 on, centered around two issu es : ide n tification and credib ility. Identification lay at the heart of the opposing positions. Credibility form ed the

basis for a continuing controversy. In the 1 8 9 6-9 7 mystery a irship sightings these two issues had not yet jelled. The publ ic at first had a simple explana­ tion for the exist ence of the airships : an unknovm individual had secretly invented a flying m achine and had put man into the skies. But when no authentic inventor appeared on the scene, the focal point of the controversy shifted from identifi­ cation of the strange objects to the credibility of the wit­ nesses, and ridicule e ntered the debate. Scientists compound­ ed the ridicule p roblem when they asse rt ed that witness had seen stars and planets or had contrived hoa�es. But ridi­ cule of witnesses in 1 8 96-97 did not b ecom e as severe as it did after 1 947. The American pu b lic in the late 1 890s could more easily believe witnesses because it sensed that the inven­ tion of flight was near. Also, the 1 896-97 s ightings lasted only a few months. The public did not have to confront the phe­ n om enon on a continuing b as is and could view the airship mystery as a minor episode. Fifty years later whe n the modem era of sightings began, the United States could not affo rd to treat reports of strange objects in the sky as a minor matte r. Identifying the uniden­ tified flying objects was for the Air Force, the scientific com­ munity, and the civilian CFO organizations the most impor­ tant issue. The problem of i d entificatio n involved asking the most appropriate question. The history of the controversy demonstrated that these three groups usually failed to pose the b asi c question: Did UFOs constitute an anom alous phe­ nomenon? Given the anecd o tal and ephemeral nature of the data, the sighting reports, this questio n was the only remotely answerable one. All othe r questions about the origin of UFOs were at best highly theoretical and speculative. The available data provided no way to determine the objects' origins. Yet all three groups focused in vain on the unanswerable question of origin. Because neither the Air Force, most scientists in-


'

1 973: Echoes of the Past

265

volved in the controversy, nor the civilian UFO organizations concentrated on the limited and less sensational issue of anomalousness, each group seriously weakened its position and prolonged the debate. The task of identifying the unknown flying objects fell first and appropriately to the Air Force-the official group re­ sponsible for defending the nation against attack from the air. Public pressure and Air Force concern that UFOs might be secret foreign weapons prompted the study. When Project Sign concluded in 1 94 8 that the objects were not foreign weapons and did not threaten the national security, some staff members speculated that UFOs therefore had to be extrater­ restrial. Without first p roving that the objects represented an anomalous phenomenon, however, this conclusion remained untenable. Since the Air Force found no p roof for the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis, it rejected this theory completely af­ ter 1 948 and operated under the unproven assumption that UFOs did not constitute an arfomalous phenomenon. By concluding that UFOs were not anomalous, the Air Force put itself in the position of denying the credibility of witnesses. People who reported UFOs, the Air Force said, ei­ ther misidentified natural phenomena, lied, or suffered from

,

I

delusions. But the public, and especially people who claimed to have seen a UFO, found it difficult to believe many of the Air Force explanations for the strange observations. In 1 953 the Robertson p anel intensified the Air Force's need to explain all sightings as ordinary occurrences. By recommending that the Air Force reduce UFO reports to a minimum for the sake of national defense, the Robertson panel encased the Air Force in a difficult public relations problem and gave it a rationale for making misleading and deceptive statements to the public and to Congress. The Air Force had to protect the country not against the objects but against the reports. It had to allay public fears by assuring the people that nothing unusual was in the sky. It h ad to avert congressional hearings b ecause they might create popu· lar interest in UFOs, which would result in "flying saucer hysteria," which, in turn, would generate more UFO reports and thus threaten the national security. To do all these things, as well as to safeguard the intelli­ gence community that presided over the UFO project, the Air Force gave out only limited information and kept its files classified, thus preventing civilians from examining the data. More importantly, it tried to eliminate sighting reports. If


266

Th e UFO Controversy in A merica

hoaxes, delusions, and misidentification of known phenomena accounted for the sightings, as the Air Force believed, then the Air Force needed to educate the public and especially Congress about this fact to prevent a recurrence of UFO re­ porting. Hence the problem of unidentified flying objects for , the Air Force lay primarily in public relations. These public relations policies created a credibility problem for the Air Force. UFO organizations vociferously criticized Air Force methods of investigating and analyzing sightings and the public doubted its explanations for UFOs. To coun­ teract these attacks and maintain its credibility, the Air Force engaged in a protracted struggle with the UFO groups. But the Air Force's position was weak. After the Robertson panel's recommendations, the Air Force bad abandoned sys­ tematic study of UFOs and confined its activities to collecting reports and performing statistical breakdowns of the broad identified category. Systematically studying UFOs wasted time and effort because people did not see uniquely unusual objects. The Air Force's conviction that scientific investigation would prove worthless deepened even more its public rela­ tions bind because the public looked to the Air Force for scientific answers to the problem. To placate the public, the Air Force insisted, on the basis of the incomplete and incon­ clusive Battelle Memorial Institute study and the Robertson panel, that it h ad thoroughly investigated the phenomenon and h ad found no evidence for unusual craft in the sky. The Air Force also effectively used this argument to prevent con­ gressional scrutiny of its UFO program. Consequently, from the early 1 950s to the late 1960s, the Air Force was in the unenviable position of playing a conflicting role : it supplied "scientific" answers to a question it had not studied by releas­ ing incomplete and misrepresentative statistics b ased on poorly analyzed sighting reports, and it attempted to quiet public criticism of it for not treating the UFO issue scientifi­ cally by making misleading and often deceptive public rela­ tions statements. Almost all scientists involved in the UFO controversy also assumed that UFOs were misidentifications, hoaxes, delu­ sions, and not anomalous. The ephemeral, nonreproducible, anecdotal, and unpredictable nature of the data made study within established disciplines and the methodologies diffi cult. And most raw reports, in fact, did fall in the category of misidentification of known phenomena. But the crux of the


1973: Echoes of the Past

267

controversy rested on the reports that analysts could not iden­ tify. Few scientists confronted the basic question for these unidentified reports : Did the objects constitute a uniquely un­ usual phenomenon? If scientists answered this question affir­ matively, they then could have asked whether the objects were natural or artificial. Only after this could they have dealt with the objects' origins. Instead, they made the same logical leap as the Air Force and tried to explain the origins before asking the other questions. Many scientists used logical fallacies to attack the extraterrestrial hypothesis. They argued that since human technology could not overcome the prob­ lems of time and distance in space, then neither could ex­ traterrestrial technology. Even if "aliens" controlled the ob· jects, the argument went, the occupants would surely have made "official" contact with earth people. Because they had not, it followed that the objects were not under intelligent control, not extraterrestrial, and not anomalous. A central problem in the scientific community's treatment

of the subject was that the UFO phenomenon did not fit into the purview of any one scientific discipline. Each scientist as­ sumed that UFOs fell within an established scientific field­ usually his own. Most scientists failed to recognize that UFO s might constitute a complex and interdisciplinary field of study with its own precepts and methodology. This was why scien­ tists never could account for those reports that remained uni­ dentified after extensive analysis. In fact, most scientists re­ fused to see the phenomenon as a legitimate field of study: Ridicule played a critical role in perpetuating the idea that the UFO phenomenon was nonsense and undeserving of study. Ridicule touched everyone in the private sector in­ volved in investigating the phenomenon, especially active members of UFO research organizations. The threat of ridi' cule inhibited scientists from studying the phenomenon and reinforced the idea that UFOs were not anomalous. Fear of ridicule deterred people from reporting UFO sightings. Al· though the ridicule problem began to lessen slightly by 1 973, it remained one of the most important barriers to research on UFOs. The contactees' unsubstantiated claims of trips in flying saucers and ongoing personal communication with aliens in the mid- 1 9 50s increased the ridicule problem, added more confusion to the subject, and strengthened the scientific con;t· munity's position that UFOs did not merit study. The media and entertainment industry compounded the confusion be-


The UFO Controversy in A merica

268

tween contactees and reputable UFO witnesses by giving the contactees widespread publicity and by producing movies with contactee-Iike themes. As a result, the national UFO or­ g anizations had to expend much energy not only disasso ciat­ ing themselves from the contactees but also trying to correct the public confusion they engendered. The contactees represented only one obstacl e for the UFO organizations. Two greater impediments were the Air Force, with its public relations policies, and the scientists, with their attitudes toward the UFO phenomenon. Yet like these two ad versari e s , the UFO groups became ensnarled in asking inappropriate questions. The leaders, especially Keyhoe, presumed that UFOs were anomalous and therefore extrater­ restrial. For Keyhoe thi s "fact" l ay buried in the inner reaches of Air Force and CIA classified files. With this con­ viction, Keyhoe evolved a complex belief system th at as­ sumed the Air Force was lying to the public and consp iri n g to keep information from it to prevent panic. In view of the Air Force's classification policies, investigatory tech niques, and public st atemen ts , Keyhoe's suspicions seemed well found· ed. But through Keyhoe's influence the focus of the contro­ versy shifted away from the UFO problem and onto the Air Force. This outlook weakened the potential effect of NICAP and to a lesser extent, other UFO organizations. The Air Force effectively combated Keyhoe's calls for con· gressional investigations and denied charges of cover-up by referring to its scientific studies which found no evidence for the extraterrestrial hypothes is. Furthermore, the Air Force impea ched Keyhoe's credibility by using the Robertson panel report to show that his activities might threaten the national security. With Keyhoe's credibility undermined, and with his assumption that UFOs were extraterrestrial, he never could convince the scientific community to study the phenomenon. The charges and countercharges of the Air Force, some scientists, and the national UFO o rganizations in the 1 9 60s planted a seed of doubt in many people's minds about the Air Force's capability to handle the UFO problem. The 1965-66 sighting wave led to widespread press criticism of the Air Force as well. Hynek's 1 9 66 swamp gas pronouncement stretched credibility to the limit as many people simply re· fused to believe him. Furthermore, the sightings themselves, alw ays present, had a renewing effect on the controversy and on public interest. The UFOs seemed immune to publ ic dis­ cussion about them, came at quasi-predictable times re ,

-


1973: Echoes of the Past

269

gardless of societal events, and cut across geographic bound· aries. Also, people who reported sighting:s represented ail strata of American life. The Air F o rce , after t:r)ing to disen­ gage itself from investigating LrOs, became frustrated over its helplessness to reduce reports after years of effort. Cnd er tremendous public p ressure and criticism. it tacitly admitted defeat in 1 9 66 and established the Condon committee. Still

confident that urOs were a nonsense problem. the Air Force took a calculated risk in creating the committee and won. The Condon committee fell into the s.ame trap as the oth­ ers : it primarily concerned itself with the validity of the ex­ traterrestrial hypothesis and not with the poss ib le anomalous nature of the phenomenon. Finding no e\idence for the ex­ traterrestrial origin of LrOs, the committee, and especiall y Co nd o n, fell prey to th e common mistake of concluding that L'"FOs did not constirute an anomalous phenomenon and therefore did not merit further srudy. The Air Force seized upon these conclusi o ns and used the Condon committee's recommendations to close Project B lue Book and end its in­ volvement with the LrO phenomenon in 1 9 69. The failure of the Air Force. the scientific community, and the urO organizations to ask the one question that offered some possibility of empirical resolution perpetuated the LrO mystery and the confusion surrounding it Thus in 1 9 69, al­ though no official L:rO project existed, many people still sought a solution to the m)�ry. Among them was a growing corps of scientists Ullder the leadership of James :\fcDonald and J. Allen H vnek. By the time· of th e 1 973-74 wave, the tone of the contro­

versy, while for the most part following established lines., be­ gan to change. The Air Force bad remo..-ed itself from the controversy, -Keyhoe had retired. the fight for congressional hearings had end ed, and the Condon committee was history. Between 1 9 69 and 1974 scientists interested in LrOs quietly and slowly chipped away at the granite wall of disreputability and ill egitimacy so long associa ted with th e subject of LrOs. The moon landing and scientists' acceptance of the p robabil­ ity o f life elsewhere in the universe helped ease ridicule of UFO witnesses and the phenomenon itself. The fC>Cll5 began to shift from credibility back to identification, the heart of the issu e .

By mid- 1 974 many scientists had answered affirmatively the question of urO anomalousness and were cl a.rif)ing some of the basic issu es that had muddied the controversy.


The UFO Controversy in A merica

270

New perspectives emerged based on the increased awareness of the global nature of the phenomenon. The excellent British journal, Flying Saucer Review, provided a forum for interna­ tional exchanges of data and ideas. Hynek's Center for UFO Studies served as a focal p oint for scientific analysis of the phenomenon. Free from the debates of previous years, re­ searchers for the first time focused on identification and con­ fronted head-on the mystery of unidentified flying objects.

.{, Changes in Ai r Force Annual U FO Report Statistics, 1 96()...9 Yearly Tolals as Reported by /he Air Force

Year in

Which Public Reported UFO Sighlings

1 96061

1962-

79

63

To/a/ No. Uniden·

1 964

1 965

1 966

1 967

1 968

1 969

79

79

1 22

1 22

1 22

1 22

rifled "

1 948

1 43

79

1 43

1 43

1 43

1 S6

1 S6

1 S6

1 S6

7

1949

1 86

1 86

1 86

1 86

1 86

1 86

1 86

1 86

22

1 950

1 69

1 947

12

1 69

169

210

210

210

210

210

27

1 21

1 21

1 S6

1 69

1 69

1 69

1 69

22

1 952

1 21

1,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 ,501

1 953

425

425

425

425

1 954

429

429

429

487

487

487

487

487

46

545

545

545

24

1 951

404 n8

1 957

404 n8

1,178

1 ,1 78

1 958

573

590

1 955 19S6

1 959 1 960 1 961 1 962 1 963 1 964

364 462

364

514

488

509

404

543

545

667

670

670

1 ,004

1,005

623 386 5S6

584 469 382

509

509

509

303 42

670

670

14

1 ,006

610

1 ,006

1 ,006

1 ,006

14

623

627

627

627

627

10

387

390

390

390

390

12

5S6

557

557

557

557

14

585

591

591

591

591

13

469

474

474

474

474

15

393

399

399

399

399

14

532

S62

S62

S62

19

886

562

887

16

887

887

1 ,()60

1 ,1 1 2

1 ,1 1 2

32

937

937

19

1 968

375

3

1 969

1 46

1 965

1966

1967

TOTAL

1 2,618

701

NOTE: The Air Force failed to explain adequately why changes existed in its annual

statistics. It stated i n 1 968 that some press releases � not included a l l the sightings and that this was later corrected, but the A i r Force never expla ined why some yearly totals decreased over t i me. • The u n identified l i st does not include sighti ngs in the possible and probable categories.


Notes 1 The Mystery Airship: Preliminaries to the Controversy 1 . See Savante Stubilius, A irship, . Aeroplane, Aircraft (Gote­ borg, Sweden : Almqvist Wiksell, 1 966 ) , for a complete analysis

of nineteenth-century usage of words dealing with aircraft. 2. Omaha Morning World-Herald, 6 April 1 897, p.5; Chicago Tribune, 1 0 April 1 897, p.2; Dallas Morning News, 17 April 1 897, p.8, and 1 6 April 1 897, p.5. 3 . Milwaukee Sentinel, 11 April 1 897, p. l l ; Detroit Free Press, 1 4 April 1 897, pp.3, 2; Chicago Tribune 1 2 April 1 897, p.5; Dal­ las Morning News, 8 April 1 897, p.3 ; Galveston Daily News, 24 April 1 897, p.3 . 4. Dallas Morning News, 8 April 1 897, p.3 ; Chicago Times­ Herald, 6 April 1 897, p. l . 5 . Dallas Morning News, 1 6 April 1 897, p.5. 6. Detroit Free Press, 1 0 April 1 897, p.2; Chicago Tribune, 2 April 1 897, p. 1 4 ; Dallas Morning News, 1 9 April 1 897, p.5. 7. Chicago Times-Herald, 10 April 1 897, p. 1 , and 13 April 1 897, p.2; Detroit Free Press, 6 April 1 897, p.3 . 8. Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 1 8 November 1 896, p.4, and 19 November 1 896, p.8; Dallas Morning News, 18 April 1 897, p.4; Chicago Tribune, 2 April 1 897, p . 1 4 ; Des Moines Leader, 1 3 April 1 897, p.3; Houston Post, 22 April 1 897, p.9. 9. Milwaukee Sentinel, 15 April 1 897, p. 1 0 ; Cincinnati Com­ mercial-Tribune, 25 April 1 897, p. 1 0. 10. Galveston Daily News, 22 April 1 8 97, p.4; St. Louis Post­ Dispatch, 1 4 April 1 897, p.7; Chicago Times-Herald, 1 6 April 1 897, p. 1 ; Houston Post, 22 April 1 897, p.9; Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 1 9 November 1 896, p.8; Dallas Morning News, 1 8 April 1 897, p.4. 1 1 . Chicago Times-Herald, 17 April 1 897, p.6; Harrisburg (Arkansas ) Modern News, 23 April 1 897, p.2; San Francisco Call, cited in Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 24 November 1 896, p.8. 1 2. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 April 1 897, p.9. 1 3 . Houston Post, 25 April 1 897, p. 1 3 . 1 4. Dallas Morning News, 1 9 April 1 897, p.S. 1 5. Ibid. 1 6. Ibid. 1 7. Houston Post, 21 April 1 897, p.2. 1 8 . Galveston Daily News, 24 April 1 897, p.3, and 28 April 1 897, p.6; Houston Post, 25 April 1 897, p.S. 19. Houston Post, 26 April 1 8 97, p.2. 20. Houston Post, 30 April 1 897, p.7.

271


272

Notes

2 1 . Yates Center (Kansas) Farme�s A dvocate, 23 April 1 897, cited in Jerome Clark. "The Strange Case of the 1 897 Airship," Flying Saucer Review 12 (July-August 1 966) : 10-17, especial­ ly 1 3 . 22. Ibid. 23. St. Louts Post-Dispatch, 1 1 April 1 897, p.2; Des Moines Leader, 1 1 April 1 897, p.3 ; Chicago Record, 17 April 1 897, cited in Donald Hanlon, "The Airship in Fact and Fiction," Flying Saucer Review 1 6 (July-August 1 970 ) : 20-2 1 ; Milwaukee Sen­ tinel, 1 5 April 1 897, p . 1 ; Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 1 9 April 1 897, p. 1 ; Des Moines Daily News, 1 2 April 1 897, p .3 . 24. Dallas Morning News, 1 9 April 1 8 97, p.5. 25. Frank Masquellette, "Physical Evid ence of Great Airships of 1 897," Houston Post, 13 June 1 966, p.8. 26. Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 23 November 1 896, p.4, and 24 November 1 896, p.8. 27. Chicago Tribune, 12 April 1 897, p .6, and 26 April 1 897, p .3 . 28. Louisville Courier-Journal, 1 9 April 1 897, p . 1 . 2 9 . Detroit Free Press, 1 April 1 897 , p.9. 3 0. Chicago Times-Herald, 1 2 April 1 897, p . 1 ; Chicago Tribune, 1 2 April 1 897, p.5; Des Moines Daily News, 1 2 April 1 897, p.3 . 3 1 . Cinci1111llti Commercial-Tribune, 16 April 1 897, p. 1 . 3 2. Detroit Free Press, 10 April 1 897, p. 2 ; Dallas Morning News, 1 8 April 1 897, p.4; St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 2 April 1 897, p.2; Milwaukee Sentinel, 1 0 April 1 897, p. 1 ; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1 0 April 1 897, pp. 1 , 2; Chicago Times-Herald, 1 0 April 1 897, p.4. 33. Galveston Daily News, 20 April 1 897, p.2; Louisville Courier-Journal, 1 5 April 1 897, p.5; Dallas Morning News, 17 April 1 897, p.8. 34. Dallas Morning News, 1 9 April 1 897, p.S. 3 5. Chicago Times-Herald, 11. A_pril 1 897, p.2; Chicago Tribune, 1 2 April 1 897, p.5. 3 6. Chicago Times-Herald, 8 April 1 897, p. 1 ; Milwaukee Sen­ tinel 1 1 April 1 897, p. 1 1 ; Chicago Tribune, 10 April 1 897, p.2, Galveston Daily News, 15 April 1 897, p.l ; Chicago Times-Her­ ald, 4 April 1 897, p. l ; Ch icago Tribune, 5 April 1 897, p.4; Omaha Morning World-Herald, 6 April 1 897, p.5; Galveston Daily News, 23 April 1 897, p.3. 37. Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 24 November 1 896, p. 1 ; Chicago Tribune, 1 0 April 1 897, p. l , an d 1 1 April 1 897, p. l . 3 8 . Omaha Morning World-Herald, 8 April 1 897, p.S ; Chicago Tribune, 1 0 April 1 897, p.2, and 1 1 Apri1 1 897, pp.32, 1 . 3 9 . Milwaukee Sentinel, 1 3 Apri1 1 897, p. l .

40. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1 0 April 1 897, pp . 1 , Apri1 1 897, pp. l , 2.

2,

an d 1 3


Notes

273

4 1 . St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 13 April 1 897, pp. 1 , 2 ; Chicago Tribune, 20 April 1 897, p.4. 42. Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 20 November 1 89 6, p.2, and 21 November 1 896, p.4; Birmingham (Alabama) News, cited in Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, 2 2 April 1 897, p.4; Chicago Tribune, 1 9 April 1 897, p.6; Kansas City (Missouri ) Star, 28 March 1 897, p. 2, and 29 March 1 897, p.8. 43. Chicago Tribune, 4 April 1 897, p.32. 44. Des Moines Leader, 1 1 April 1 897, p.3 ; Wisconsin State Journal (M adi son ) , 12 April 1 897, p.2; Cincinnati Commercial足 Tribune, 1 6 April 1 897, p. l ; Baltimore News, c i te d in Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, 22 April 1 897, p.4. 45. Memphis Commerical A ppeal, ci ted in Cincinnati Commer足 cial-Tribune, 2 2 April 1 897, p.4; Dallas Morning News, 21 April 1 897, p.6; Galveston Daily News, 2 May 1 897, p.20; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1 8 April 1 897, p. 20. 46. Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 24 Nov embe r 1 896, p.8; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 17 April 1 897, p. 1 ; Dallas Morning News, 1 8 Apri1 1 897, p.4. 47. Chicago Times-Herald, 12 April 1 897, p. l ; St. Louis Post足 Dispatch, 1 2 Apri1 1 897, pp. 1 , 2, and 1 8 April 1 897, p. l . 4 8 . James 0. B ailey, Pilgrims Through Space and Time (New York : Argus, 1 947 ) , p 96. 49. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1 1 April 1 897, p.4, and 14 April 1 897, p.7; Houston Post, 2 2 April 1 897, p.9; Washington Times and Memphis Commercial Appeal, cited in Cincinnati Commer足 i cial-Tribune, 22 April 1 897, p.4. 50. St. Louis G lobe-Democrat, 13 April 1 897, p. l l ; Milwaukee Sentinel, 13 April 1 897, p . 1 ; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 April 1 897, p.5. 5 1 . Omaha Morning World-Herald, 8 April 1 897, p.S. 52. Galveston Daily News, 16 April 1 897, p.2; Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 30 November 1 896, p.3 ; Houston Post, 22 April 1 897, p.9. 53. Basil Clarke, The History of A irships {Lmdon : Herbert Jenkins, 1 960 ) , pp.3 1-44. See also Joseph H. Hood, The Sto ry of A irs/zips ( London : Arthur Barker Ltd., 1 968 ) ; John Toland, Ships in the Sky (New York: H enry Holt Co., 1 957 ) ; Charles H. Gibbs-Smith, The Invention of the A eroplane, 1 799-1 901 ( New York: Taplinger, 1 9 66 ) ; C. Gibbs-Smith, A History of Flying ( L ondo n : B. T. Batsford, 1 9 53 ) ; C. G ibbs-S mith, Aviation: A n Historical Survey ( London: Her Majesty's Sationery Office, .

1970 ) .

54. Ibid. 55. Ibid . 56. "P ennington's Airship," Scientific American, 7 Mar ch 1 89 1 , . p. 1 50; Howard Scamehorn, Balloons to Jets ( Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 957 ) , pp. 1 4-1 5. . 57. For a p ho togr a ph of Professor B arnard s pedal-powered aJ.l''


Notes

274

ship, see Herman J usti, ed., Official History of the Tennessee Cen­ tennial Exposition (Nashville : Brandon Printing Co., 1 898 ) , p.404. 58. Scamehom, p. 1 5 . 59. Charles H . Gibbs-Smith, "Historical Note," Flying Saucer Review 12 (July-August 1966 ) : 17. 2 The Modem Era Begins: Attempts t o Reduce tbe Mystery 1 . Gordon L Lore and Harold H. Deneault, Mysteries of the Skies (Englewood Cliffs, N J . : Prentice-Hall, 1968 ) , pp. l l 6, 1 2325; D avid R. Saunders and R. Roger Harkins, UFOs? Yes! (New York : Signet, 1968 ) , p . S 3 ; Washington Star, 6 July 1947, reprint­ ed in D onald E. Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers A re Real (New York: Fawcett, 1 950 ) , pp.34-35; New York Times, 2 January 1 945, pp. 1 , 4; Jo Chamberlain, "The Foo Fighter Mystery," A merican Legion Magazine, December 1 945, pp.9, 43-47; Fred­ eric 0. S argent, Night Fighters: An Unofficial History of the 415th Night Fighter Squ adro n (Madison, WIS. : By the Author,

1 946 ) . 2. United States Air Force, Unid entifie d Flyin g Objects : Pro­ ject 'Grudge'," 1 August 1 949, No. 102-AC 491 1 5- 1 00, Appendix A (in the Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, hereafter referred to as MAFB ) ; New York Times, 1 2 August 1946, p. 1 , 1 3 August 1946, p.4, 14 August 1946, p. l l , 1 1 October 1946, p.3 ; Saunders and Harkins, p.54. 3 . Kenneth Arnold's testimony and sighting information are in the sighting files at MAFB. 4. Herbert Strentz, "An Analysis of Press Coverage of Uniden­ tified Flying Objects, 1 947-1966" (Ph.D. dissertation, North­ western University, 1 970 ) , p.2. 5. Ted Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 (By the Author, 1967 ) , pp. l 1 , 1-2. 6. Bloecher, p.l-1 1 ; Frank M. Brown, Me m o ran dum for the Officer in Charge, 1 6 July 1947 (MAFB ) . 7 . DeWayne B . Johnson, ''Flying Saucers-Fact or Fiction?" ( Master's thesis, University of California at Los Angeles, 1950 ) , pp. 1 05-15. This thesis contains some little known information about this famous incident. 8. Bloecher, p.I- 1 4; New York Times, 9 July 1947, pp. 1 and 1 0, 12 July 1 947, p. 1 1 . 9. Bloecher, p.l- 1 1 , and p I 5 1 0. New York Times, 27 December 1947, p.28, 6 July 1947, p.3 6. 1 1 . New York Times, 1 0 July 1947, p.23 . 12. "A Rash of Flying Discs Breaks Out Over the U.S.," Life, 2 1 July 1 947, pp. 1 4-1 6. 13. George H. Gallup, The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935-1948 ( New York : Random House, 197 2 ) , p.666. "

-

.

-

-

.


Notes

275

1 4 . New York Times, 4 July 1 947, p.26. 15. Edward J . Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 9 5 6 ) , p.2 3 ; "Project 'Grudge'," pp.2-3 . 1 6. Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, p.22. 1 7 . New York Times, 7 July 1 947, p . 5 . 1 8 . General Nathan F. Twining t o Commander, Air Material Command, 23 September 1 947, contained in Edward U. Condon, project director, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (New York : Banta m ed., 1 9 69 ) , pp.894-95, hereafter referred to as Condon Report. 1 9. Major General L. C. Craigie to Commanding General Wright Field, "Flying Discs," 30 December 1 947, contained in Condon Report, pp. 89 6-97 . See also Edward J . Ruppelt, "What The Air Force Has Found Out About Flying Saucers," True ( May 1 954 ) , reprinted in The TRUE Report on Flying Saucers (reprints of articles · in True Magazine; New York : Fawcett, 1 9 67 ) , pp. 3 6-39, 57-74. 20. Captain Mantell sighting information on file at MAFB. Reports that Mantell noticed heat in his cockpit are untrue. 2 1 . Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, pp. 3 3 , 37-3 8. 22. Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, pp.27-28. 23. Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, p.28. 24. Chiles and Whitted sighting information is on file at MAFB. The information contained in Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, -p.40, relating to a "tight left turn" by Chiles and "turbulent air" by the object is incorrect. Chiles and Whitted told James E. McDonald that the object vanished into thin air (letter from James McDonald to Richard H. Hall, 13 J anuary 1 9 68 ) . 2 5 . Ruppelt, Report o n UFOs, pp.4 1 , 45. J . Allen Hynek, the Air Force's scientific consultant on UFOs, confirmed the existence of the "Estimate of the Situation" in an interview with the author, February 1 97 1 . 26. Ruppelt, Report o n UFOs, pp.5 8-59. Albert M . Chop , Air Force public information officer, confirmed the factionalism at AMC in an interview with the author, 7 January 1 974. 27. United States Air Force, "Unidentified Aerial Objec ts : Projects 'Sign'," February 1 949, N o . F-TR-2274-IA, pp.vi-vii (MAFB ) . 28. Ibid. 29. Project 'Sign'," pp. 3 2-3 5 . 30. Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, pp.57, 59-60. Interview with J. Allen Hynek, February 1 97 1 . 3 1 . "Project 'Grudge'," p.2. Ruppelt, Report o n UFOs, pp.6061. 3 2. Sid ney Shallett, "What You Can Believe About Flyi ng Sau­ cers (Part II ) ," Saturday Evening Post, 7 May 1 949, pp.36, 1 848 6. 3 3 . Sidney Shallett, "What You can Believe About Flying Sau-


276

Notes

cers· (Part I) ," Saturday Evening Post, 30 April 1 949, p.2 0 ; Shal­ lett, Part IT, p. 1 86. 34. "Project 'Grudge'," p. 1 ; Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, p.63. 35. "Project 'Grudge'," incident N o . 207 , Appendices B, n.p., I, n.p., C-2 , p.4. This incident is discussed in Ruppelt, Repo rt on

UFOs, pp.67-68.

36. "Project 'Grudge'," incident No. 3 3 a-g, Appendix B, n.p.; see also Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, pp.34-35. 37. "Project 'Grudge'," Part V , Appendix G , n.p. ; A. M. Wood to lieutenant Colonel A. J. Hemstreet, 29 March 1 949, contained in "Project 'Grudge'," Appendix D-I, n.p . ; "Project 'Grudge'," p. 1 0. 3 8. "Project 'Grudge'," p . 1 0. 39. Department of Defense, News Release No. 629-49, "Air Force Discontinues Flying Saucer Project;'' 27 December 1949, contained in Leon Davidson, ed., Fly ing Saucers: An A nalysis of the A ir Force Projec t Blue Book Special Report No. 14, 4th ed. (Clarksburg, W. Va. : Saucerian Publications, 1 970 ) , p.7 ; Major Boggs, Memorandum for the Record, 3 1 August 1 949 (MAFB ) . 40. Project Twinkle final report, 27 November 195 1 ( MAFB ) . Includes letters and memoranda. 4 1 . Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, p.67; George H. Gallup, 2

( 1 949-1958 ) , p.9 1 1 . 42. Keyhoe cited in Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, pp.64-65. 43. Donald E. Keyhoe, "The Flying Saucers Are Real , " True (January 1950 ) , reprinted in The TRUE Report on Flying Sau­ cers, p.93. Keyhoe, True, p.7. Ruppelt, R eport on UFOs, pp.6465. 44. Robert B. McLaughlin, "How Scientists Tracked a Flying Saucer," True (March 1950 ) , p.28. 45. Frank Scully, Behind the Flying Saucers ( New York: Henry Holt, 1 950 ) , p . 1 3 7 . 46. Roland Gelatt, "Flying Saucer Hoax," Saturday Revie w of Literature, 6 December 1 952, p.3 1 . 47. Roland Gelatt, "In a Saucer From Venus," Saturday Re­ view of Literature, 23 Se pt ember 1 950, pp.20-2 1 , 36; "More About Flying Saucers," Science News Letter, 16 September 1 950, p. 1 8 1 ; "Visitors From Venus; Flying Saucer Yarn," Time, 9 Janu­ ary 1950, p.49. 48. Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers A re Real, p.73. 49. Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers A re Real, p. 1 7 3 . 50. "Flying Saucers-The Real Story : U.S. Built First One in 1943," U.S. News and World Report, 7 April 1 950, pp . 1 3 - 1 5; "Flying Saucers Again," Newsweek, 1 7 April 1 950, p. 29 ; Ruppelt, Report on UFOs, p.82; Condon Report, p . 5 1 5 .

5 1 . New York Times, 5 April 1 950, p.24. 52. Bob

Considine,

''The Disgraceful Flying Saucer Hoax,"

Cosmopolitan (January 1 95 1 ) , pp.3 3 , 1 0 0-02 . 53. Saunders and Harkins, pp.98-99.


277

Notes

54. "Belated Expl an atio n o n Flying Sauce rs , " Time, 26 Febru­ ary 1 95 1 , p.22 ; New York Times, 14 Feb ruary 1 9 5 1, p.28, 26

February 1 95 1 , p.25. 55. Condon Report, p. 5 1 4 .

'

3 The 1952 Wave: Efforts to Meet the Crisis 1 . "Project Grudge Special Report No. 1 ," 28 December 1 9 5 1 , contained in United States Air Force, Projects Grudge and Blue­ book Reports 1-12 (Washington, D.C. : National Inve sti gation s Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1 9 68 ) , pp.23-28. All subse­ quent references to Project Grudge and Blue Book reports in this chapter are from this volume and are cited by report number and d ate only. For Edward Ruppelt's discussion of this sighting, see his The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects ( G ard en City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 956, pp. 9 1 -9 2 . 2. Ruppel t , p. 9 3 . . 3 . Letter from Ruppelt to Max Mil l er, 1 3 February 1956 (files of th e National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Kensington, Maryland, which I hereafter refer to as NICAP ) ; Ruppelt, p.94; "Status Report No. 2," 3 1 December 1 9 5 1 , p .3 3 ; "Status Report No. 3," 3 1 January 1 952, p . 5 8 ; "S tatus Report No . 4," 29 February 1 952, p.67. 4. Ruppelt. p. l 1 4 ; "Status Report No. 1 ," 3 0 November 1 9 5 1 , p . 2 ; Ruppelt, p . 1 4. 5. "Status Report No. 2," 3 1 December 1 9 5 1 , p. 3 3 ; "Status Re­ port No . 3 , " 3 1 January 1 952, p. 59 . 6. " S tatu s Report No. 1 ," 30 N ove mb er 1 95 1 , pp.3-4; "Status Report No. 2," 3 1 December 1 9 5 1 , pp.33-3 4 ; "Status Report No. 3 , " 3 1 J anu ary 1 952, p.59; "Status Report No. 4," 29 February 1 952, p.67; "Status Report No. 5," 3 1 March 1 952, p.84; "S tatus Report No. 6," 30 April 1 952, p.99 ; Ruppelt, pp. 1 3 6-37. 7. Letter from Ruppelt to Max Miller, 1 3 February 1956 (NI­ CAP ) ; Ruppe It, p.94; " St atu s Report No. 2," 3 1 D ecemb er 1 9 5 1 , p.3 4 ; "Status Report No. 3," 3 1 January 1 952, p.59. 8 . "Status Report No. 1 ," 3 0 November 1 9 5 1 , p.4. See also David R. Saun der s and R. Roger H arkins, UFOs? Yest (New York : Signet. 1 9 68 ) , p.59. 9. Ruppelt. pp. 1 3 1 , 1 43 . 10. "Status Report No. 5," 3 1 March 1 9 52, pp.8 5-8 6 ; "Status Report No. 6," 30 Apri1 1 952, pp.9 8-99. 1 1 . Ruppelt. pp. 1 37, 1 40, 1 43 . 1 2 . Department of the Air Force,

Air

Force Letter No. 200-5,

29 April 1 952 ( from the Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air

Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, which I hereafter as MAFB ) ; Ruppelt, pp. 1 3 3-34.

refer to

1 3 . Department of Defense, Office of Public Information, "Press Release," 3 April 1 9 52, reproduced in Leon Davidson, e d ., Flying Saucers: An A nalysis of th e A ir Force Special Report No.


278

Notes

14, 4th ed. ( Clarksburg, W.Va. : Saucerian Publications, 197 1 ) , p.A4. 14. "Status Rep o rt No. 5," 3 1 March 1952, pp.84-85. 15. H. Bradford Darrach and Robert Ginna, "Have We Visitors from Space?" Life, 7 April 1952, p.80. 1 6. Darrach and Ginna, p.86. 17. Ibid. 1 8. "Status Report No. 6," 30 April 1 952, p.99. 1 9. New York Times, 1 2 April 1952, p. 1 0, and 13 April 1952, Sec. IV, p.9. 20. Ruppelt, p. 1 32. Two months l ate r Life published a follow足 up : Robert Ginn a , "Saucer Reactions," 9 June 1 952, pp.20-26. Ginna noted that there had been a "tremendous barrage" of letters and that more were coming every day (p.20 ) . 2 1 . Ruppelt, pp. 1 3 1 , 1 3 8 . Accurate statistics o n the number of reports sent to ATIC are difficult to obtain; the Condon commit足 tee final report, Project Blue Book reports, and Ruppelt all give slightly different figures on monthly sighting report totals but are substantially in agreement about the yearly totals. 22. Ruppelt, p. 1 49; "Status Report No. 7," 3 1 May 1 952, p. 1 1 5. 23. "Status Report No. 8," 3 1 D ecemb er 1952, pp. 1 34, 1 3 6, passim. 24. Ruppelt, pp. 1 47-49. 25. Donald H. Menzel, "The Truth About Flying Saucers," Look, 17 June 1952, pp. 3 5-3 9 ; "Those Flying Saucers" (an inter足 view with Donald Menzel ) , Time, 9 June 1 952, pp.54-56. These articles are essentially similar in expound ing Menzel's views. 26. "Status Report No. 6," 30 April 1 9 52, p.99. 27. J. Robert M os kin , "Hunt for the Flying Saucers," Look, 1 July 1 952, pp.37, 40. 28. Moskin, p.4 1 . 29. "Status Re po rt No. 8," 3 1 December 1952, pp. 1 3 4, 1 3 6, 1 43 ; Ruppelt p . 1 32. 30. Ruppelt, p. 1 57. 3 1 . For a more complete description of the Washington D.C., sightings, see: file on Washington, D.C., sightings at MAFB; Rup足 pelt, pp. 1 56-72; Donald E. Keyhoe, Flying Saucers From Outer Space ( New York : Holt, 1 9 53 ) , pp.63, 68-69 ; Richard Hall, ed., The UFO Evidence (Washington, D.C. : NICAP, 1 9 64 ) , pp.35, 77, 1 32, 1 49, 1 5 9 ; Washington Post, 22, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30 July 1 952. 32. Interview with Albert M. Chop, 4 January 1 974. See also Washington D.C., file at MAFB. 3 3 . Ruppelt, pp. 1 60, 1 62. 34. Hall, p. l 59 ; Ruppelt, pp. 1 6 1 , 1 65. 35. Hall, p. 159; Ruppelt, p. 1 6 6; interview with Albe rt M. Chop, 4 January 1 974. 36. Ruppelt, p . 1 67 ; Memorandum for the Record, ''Trip to Washington, D.C.," 26 July 1952 ( Personal files ) .

I

.

:

,,


279

Notes

37. Washington Post, 29 July 1 952, p . l . 3 8 . Interview with Albert M . Chop, 4 January 1 974. 39. Department of Defense, "Minutes of Press Conference held by General John A. Samford," 29 July 1 952 (MAFB ) ; Keyhoe, p.76. Keyhoe's transcription of the Samford new conference is a fairly accurate and complete ac co unt. See also Christian Science Monitor, 3 1 July 1 952, p. 1 ; Washington Post, 30 July 1 952, p . 1 ; Ruppelt, p. 1 6 8 . 4 0 . New York Times, 3 1 July 1 952, p.22, 30 July 1952, p . 1 0 ; Christian Science Monitor, 3 1 July 1 952, p . 1 2, 30 July 1 952, p . l . 4 1 . Baltimore Sun, 1 August 1 9 52 , p. 1 0 ; Milwaukee Journal, 3 0 July 1 952, p.24; Lawrence Elliot, "Flying Saucers : My th o r Men­ ace?," Coronet, 1 9 November 1 952, p.50. 42. Washington Post, 25 July 1 952, p. 1 8 ; Denver Rocky Moun­ tain News, 28 July 1 952, cited in Keyhoe, pp.69-70. 43 . Allen cited in San Francisco Chronicle, 4 August 1 952, p.3 (Allen was part of the New York Tribune ne ws service) ; "Wash­ ington's Blips," Life, 4 August 1 952, p.40. 44. Edgar Mauer, "Of Spots Before Their Eyes," Science, 1 9 December 1 952, p.693 ; New York Times, 2 9 July 1 952, p.20, 2 8 July 1 952, p.5 ; Milwaukee Journal, 3 0 July 1 952, p.2. 45. Milwaukee Journal, 4 August 1 952, p.2; Baltimore Sun, 3 August 1 9 52, p. 1 ; "No Visito rs From Space," Science News Let­ ter, 3 0 August 1 9 52, p . 1 4 3 ; San Francisco Ch ronicle, 30 July 1952, p.2; Washington Post, 30 July 1 952, p . 1 ; Milwaukee Jour­ nal, 3 0 July 1 952, p.2. 46. J . A llen Hynek, Spe cial Report on Conferences with As­ tronomers on U nidentifi ed Flying Objects," 6 August 1 952, p. 1 8 (MAFB ) . See also "Status Report No. 8," 3 1 December 1952, pp. l 3 7-3 8. 47. New York Times, 1 Au gu st 1 952, p.19; Christian Science Monitor, 30 July 1 952, p . 1 0 ; New York Times, 4 August 1 952, p.3 ; Baltimore Sun, 4 August 1 952, p . l . 48. Baltimore Sun, 3 1 July 1 9 52, p. l . 49. Chester Morrison, "Mirage or Not, Radar Sees Those Sau­ cers Too," Look, 9 September 1 952, p.99. 50. Ruppelt, p. 1 3 ; Milwaukee Journal, 1 August 1 952, p. 1 ; "Wind i s U p in Kansas," Time, 8 September 1 952, p.86; Ohio Northern University, "Project A: Investigation of Phenomena," 1 8 March 1 953 , p . 1 ( fro m the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona) . 5 1 . Darrach and Ginna, p.86; interview with Co ral Lorenzen, head of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, J un e 1 972. 52. Donald H . Menzel, "Abstrac t, Journal of the Optical Soci­ ety of America 42 (November 1 9 52 ) : 879 . Menzel did not submit his paper for publication but the journal published his abstract. 5 3 . Urner Liddel , "Phantasmagoria or Unusual O bservations in the Atmosphere," Journal of the Optical Society of A merica 43 (April 1 9 53 ) : 3 14, 3 1 5, 3 17. ,

"

"


280

54. I. Allen Hynek, ''Unusual Aerial Phenomen a,"

the Optical Society of A merica 43 (April 1 9 53 ) : 3 1 2.

! '

Notes

Journal of

55. Hynek, "Unusual Aerial Phenomena," p . 3 1 3 ; "Status Re­ port No. 9," 3 1 January 1 9 5 3 , p. 1 5 8. 56. "Special Report No. 1 ," 28 December 1 9 5 1 , pp.23-28 . See also the complete report on the Fort Monmouth sightings at MAFB . 57. "Status Report No. 8," 3 1 December 1 952, p . 1 3 8 . 58. Ruppelt, pp. 1 90-9 1 . 59. Ruppelt, p . 1 49. 60. "Status Report No. 8," 31 December 1 952, pp. 1 3 9, 1 4 1 . 6 1 . "Status Report No. 8," 3 1 December 1 952, p. 1 39. 4 The Robertson Panel and Its Effects on Air Force UFO Policy 1 . Transcript of UFO briefing to Subcommittee on Atmospheric Phenomena, House Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, 8 August 1 958, p.3 (from the Air F orce Archives at MllXwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, which I hereafter refer to as MAFB ) . 2. Memorandum, Air Technical Intelligence Command to Air Defense Command, 23 December 1 952 ( MAFB ) ; letter from S. A. Goudsmit to author, 9 February 1 972 : "communication chan­ nels had been nearly saturated during an outbreak of UFO hys­ teria shortly befo re our meeting. We considered this a real danger. . . • " 3 . The duration of the meetings is a subject of controversy. Ruppelt said the meeting started on 1 2 January and went for five days. The Robertson panel minutes puts the date at 1 4- 1 8 January. According to a copy of the minutes, the date of 1 4- 1 7 January is correct. 4. Who Was Who in A merica, no. 4 (New York : Marquis Co., 1 9 68 ) , p.800; Who's Who in A merica, no. 36 (New York : Mar­ quis Co., 1 97 1 ) , p. 865, and also Edward U. Condon, project director, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (New York : Bantam ed., 1969 ) , pp.5 1 6- 1 7 ; Who's Who, p.37; Who's Who, p . 1 7 3 3 ; Who Was Who, p . 1 0 5 1 . 5 . Edward J . Ruppelt, The Report o n Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 95 6 ) , p.24 1 . 6 . Frederick C . Durant, "Report of Meetings o f Scientific Advi­ sory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects," 1 4-1 8 January 1953, p.3 (MAFB ) , whi ch I hereafter refer to as Robertson report; also contained in Condon, pp.896-99. Ruppelt, p .2 1 9 . 7. Robertson report, pp.3-5, 1 7. 8. Robertson report, pp.4-6, 1 7. 9. Robertson report, pp. 1 2- 1 3 ; letter from S. A. Goudsmit to author, 9 February 1 972. 10. Robertson report, pp.9, 1 1-12. 1 1 . Robertson report, Tab A.

l


281

Notes

12. Robertson report, pp. 1 8-2 4 , Tab A. 1 3 . Robertson report, pp.2 1-22. 14. Letter from Thornton Page to Author, 7 February 1 972; letter from S. A. Goudsmit to J. A. Hennessey, 25 February 1965 ( in the files of the National Investigations Co mmi ttee on Aerial Phenomena, Kensington, Maryland, which I he reafter refer to as NICAP ) ; letter from S. A. Goudsmit to J. A. Hennessey, 1 0 March 1 9 65 (NICAP ) ; J . Allen Hynek, "Are Flying Saucers Real?" Saturday Evening Post, 17 December 1 966, p. 19. 15. Interview with J. Allen Hynek, Feb ruary 1972. 1 6. See chapter 2, pp.6 1 -62, 66-69. 1 7. Letter from Edward J. Ruppelt to Leon Davidson, 7 May 1958, contained in Leon Davidson, ed., Flying Saucers: An Anal­ ysis of the A ir Force Special Report No. 14, 4th ed. ( Clarksburg, W.Va. : Saucerian Publications, 1970 ) , p.B 3 . Exactly when the CIA released the su m mary to Blue Book is not known. 18 Ruppelt, p.228; Donald E. Keyhoe, The Flying Sa u cer Con­ spiracy ( New York : Holt, 1955 ) , pp.39-40. 19. United States Air Force, "Status Report No. 1 0," 27 Febru­ ary 1953 , Projects Grudge and Bluebook Reports 1-12 (Washing­ ton, D . C. : NICAP, 1 9 68 ) , p . 1 8 0 hereafter I will refer to all status reports by number and date only ) ; "Status Report No. 1 1 ," 3 1 May 1 953, p.204. Also see Ruppelt, p.229. 20. Ruppe lt, p.23 1 ; letter from Major Robert C. B rown to Commanding General, Air Defense Command, 5 March 1953 (MAFB ) ;

Memorandum,

"Division

of

Responsibility

ATIC­

ADC," December 1 953 (MAFB ) ; "Status Report No. 1 0 ," 27 February 1953, p. 179 ;· Memorandum, "Briefing of ADC Forces and Divisions of Project Blue Book," 12 November 1952

(MAFB ) ; Memorandum, "Project Blue Book Special Briefing for

Air Defense Command," March 1 9 5 3 (MAFB ) . 2 1 . Ruppelt, pp.23 1-32. 22. Interview with J . Allen Hynek, February 1 972. 23 . Keyhoe, Conspiracy, p.44. 24. Donald E. Keyhoe, "Fl yin g Saucers From Outer Space," Look, 20 October 1953, pp. 1 1 4-20. 25. Keyhoe, Loo k, p . 1 1 4; Keyhoe, Conspiracy, p.55 ; telegrams from Albert M. Chop to Keyhoe, n.d., December and October 1953? (NICAP ) ; interview with Keyhoe, April 1 972. 26. Donald E. Keyhoe, Flying Saucers From Outer Space (New York : Holt, 1953 ) , pp. 1 24, 249. 27. Donald H. Menzel, Flying Saucers ( Cambri dge , Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1 9 5 3 ) , p assim. 28. Menzel, pp. 2 2 , 1 5, 149-66. 29. Menzel, p.80. 3 0. Menzel, pp.57, 1 7 1 , 143-44 , 1 48 . 3 1 . Norman J. Crum, "Flying Saucers and Book Selection," Li­ brary Journal 19 ( Octob er 1 9 54 ) : 1 7 1 9-25; David Flick, ''Tripe for the Public," Library Journal 80 (February 195 5 ) : 202.


282

Notes

.

32. Department of the Air Force, "Air Force Regulation 2002," 26 August 1 9 5 3 , 2 November 1 95 3 , 12 August 1954 (MAFB ) , and al so contained in Davidson, pp. 1 3 5-3 8; Department of the Air Force, "Air Force Letter 200-5," 29 April 1952 (MAFB ) . See also "Status Report No. 1 2," 30 September 1 9 5 3 , p.21 9. 3 3 . Joint-Army-Navy-Air Force-Publication 146, December 1953 , contained in Lawrence Tacker, Flying Saucers and the U.S. Air Force ( Princeton, N.J . : Van Nostrand, 1 9 60 ) , pp. 1 27-3 5. 34. "Status Report No. 1 1 ," 31 May 1953, p.200; "S tatus Re­ port No. 1 2," 30 September 1 9 5 3 , p.2 1 6.

3 5 . Special Report No. 14, 5 May 1 95 5 , contained in Davidson. See section in chapter 6 on Special Report No. 14. 3 6. Ohio Northern University, "Project A: Investigation of Phenomena," 18 March 1953 ( from the files of the Aerial Phe­ nomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona) . 5 Contadees, Clubs, an d Confusion 1 . For a discussion of occupant reports, see Coral and Jim Lorenzen, Flying Saucer Occupants (New York : Signet, 1 9 67 ) ; J. Allen Hynek, The · UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry ( Chi· cago : Henry Regnery, 1 972 ) ; and Charles Bowen, ed., The Hu­ manoids (London : Neville Spe arman , 1 969 ) . 2 . Jung's psychoanalytic description o f a flying saucer sighting pertains to these individuals. See Carl G. lung, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky , trans. R. F. C. Hull (New York : Harcourt, Brace, 1959; Signet, 1 9 69 ) . 3 . Paris Flammonde, The Age of Flying Saucers (N ew York : Hawthorn, 1 97 1 ) , p.5 3 . See also B ryant and Helen Reeve, Flying Saucer Pilgrimage (Amherst, Wis. : Amhe rs t Press, 1 957 ) , for a discussion of the contactees' personalitie s . 4. Flamm on d e, p.54. The title of Adamski's n ovel is Pioneer�

of Space.

5. Desmond Leslie and George A d am ski Flying Saucers Have Landed (London : Werner Laurie, 1 9 5 3 ) , pp. 1 72-73. ,

6. Leslie and Adamski, p.205. 7. George Adamski, Inside the Spaceships (New York : Abe­ lard-Schuman, 1 955 ) ; the paperb ack edition is Inside the Flying Saucers ( New York : Paperback Library, 1967 ) , pp.78 , 95, 1 04-5, 1 2 3 , 1 57, 1 79. All subsequent refere n ces are to the p ap erback edi·

tion. 8. Truman Bethurum, A board A Fly ing Saucer (Los Angele s : De Vorss, 1 954 ) , pp. 1 4 3 , 1 23 , 1 45. 9 . B e thu rum pp.25-26. 10. Daniel Fry, The White Sands Incident (Los Angeles : NeW ' Age Publishing Co., 1954 ) , p . 1 9 . One year later Fry wrote A la n s Message to Men of Earth (Los Angeles : New Age Pub lishing Co., 1955 ) . Bo th books were combined in The White Sands In· ,

'


Notes

283

cident (Louisville, Ky. : B e s t Books, 1 9 66 ) , t o which the notes in this chapter refer. 1 1 . Fry, pp.20-2 1 . 1 2 . Fry, pp.67, 70, 90-92. 13. Orfeo M. Angelucci, The Secret of the Saucers (Amherst, , Wis. : Amherst Press, 1 9 55 ) , pp. 1 1 3 , 3 3-3 6. For an extensive psy­ choanalytic study of this book, see Jung, pp. 1 1 9-27. 1 4. Angelucci, pp.76-78, 1 2 1 , 1 3 8-40. 1 5. Howard Menger, From Outer Space to You ( Clarksburg, W. Va. : Saucerian Books, 1 9 59 ) . The paperback is From Outer Space (New York : Pyramid, 1 9 6 7 ) , pp.34-3 8 , 1 49, 1 19-24, 127. All notes refer to the paperback edition. 1 6. Bethurum, p . 1 4 1 Angelucci, pp . 1 0 6, 3 1 . 1 7 . Adamski, p.7 8 ; Angelucci, p. 1 3 0. 18. Leslie and Adamski, p.202; Fry, p.7 1 ; Menger, p . 1 55. 19. Adamski, p.75 ; Bethurum, p. 1 03 ; Fry, pp. 26 , 46 : Angelucci, r p. 9 ; Menger, p. 1 58. 20. Adamski, p.73 ; Bethurum, p .7 5 ; Fry, p.67; Angelucci, pp . 4 6, 3 0, 1 1 0 ; Menger, pp.23, 4 1 , 6 3 . 2 1 . Edward J. Ruppelt, The Report o n Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 9 5 6 ) . In 1 959 Doubleday published a revision of this book which included three additional chapters, one of which discussed contactees (p. 2 63 ) ; however, the revision does not have the word revision on it and carries the 1 9 5 6 date. Also Bethurum, pp. 1 20-2 5 ; Menger, pp. l l 3 , 1 3 2, 1 7 275. See also Flammonde, pp.94- 1 00. 22. Leslie and Adamski, pp. 1 77, 1 83 ; Bethurum, p . 10; Ange­ lucci, pp.74, 26. 23. Flammonde, l'P - 8 7- 8 8 , 2 1 1 ; Civilian Saucer Investigations of New York, CSI Newsletter, 1 5 July 1959, p . 1 1 . George Van Tassel, I Rode A Flying Saucer (by the Author, 1 9 52 ) ; George Van Tassel, The Council of Seven Lights (Los Angeles : De Vorss, 1 95 8 ) . George Hunt Williamson and Alfred C. Bailey, The Saucers Speak (Los Angeles : New Age Publishing Co., 1 9 54 ) . Flammonde, pp. 179-80. Nexus 2 ( May 1 9 55 ) : 9 . For additional descriptions of some of these minor figures, see : Flammonde, pas­ sim; John Nebel, The Way Out World (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1 96 1 ; New York : Lancer, 1 9 62 ) ; John Nebel, The Psychic World A round Us (New York: Hawthorn, 1 9 6 9 ; New York: Signet, 1 970 ) . 24. CSI Newsletter, 1 5 December 1 956, p . 8 CSI Newsletter, 1 5 July 1 959, pp.5-8; see also Flamm o nde, pp. 1 2 8-3 1 . Thy Kingdom Come became AFSCA World Report ( 1 959-6 1 ) , then UFO Inter­ national ( 1 962-65 ) , and then Flying Saucers International ( 1 96672) . John Godwin, Occult A merica (Garden City, N.Y. : Dou­ bleday, 1 972 ) , p. 1 47. 25. James Moseley's reports on the Giant Rock conventions are in: Nexus 2 ( May 1 955 ) : 9; Saucer News 7 (September 1 9 60 ) : 3-9; Saucer News 8 (December 1 9 6 1 ) : 1 2-1 3 ; Saucers, Space and


284

Notes

Science 60 ( 1 97 1 ) : 7-8 . James Moseley, "Non-Scheduled Newslet­ ter No. 1 1 ," Saucer News ( 1 0 September 1 9 60) : 1 ; see also Sau­ cer News 7 ( September 1 9 60 ) : 3-9. 26. " AM FS CA Souvenir Program," Thy Kingdom Come ( May-June 1 9 59 ) : 2-3 . J ames Moseley, "Recent News Stories," Saucer News 6 (December-January 1 95 8 ) : 1 3-14. CSJ Newsletter, 15 July 1 9 5 9 , p . 1 1 . 27. Flammonde, passim; Nebel, The Way Out World, passim. 1 Letter from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 30 March 1 954 ( in th e files of · the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona, .' to which I hereafter refer as APRO) . 2 8 . For an index of some of these clubs and their lo cati ons, s ee � Thy Kingdom Come (April-May 1 9 57 ) : 1 3-1 5 ( published by the ' Los Angeles Interplanetary Study Groups, later called the Amal­ gamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America ) . 29. Flammonde, p.67; The Flying Saucer Review ( official publi- 1 cation of the Space Observers League, Seattle, Washington ) , see particularly 1 ( October 1 95 5 ) , 2 (February 1 9 56 ) , 2 (April 1 95 6 ) , 2 ( June 1 9 5 6 ) , 2 (August 1 95 6 ) ; The Spacecrafter 3 (January-March 1 9 60 ) : 3 . 3 0. Gray Barker, They Knew Too Much A bout Flying Saucer! : ( New York : Univ ersity Books, 1 9 5 6 ) ; A lb ert K. Bender, F ly in g Saucers and the Three Men (New York : Paperb ack Library, 1968 ) . 3 1 . UFORUM 1 (February-March 1 957 ) : 4-5 ; CSJ Newsletter, 1 May 1 957, pp. 1 -2 ; Nexus (Janu a ry 1 9 55, March 1 955, May 1 9 5 5 ) ; Saucer News 2 (June-July 1 9 55 ) , 4 (February-March 1 9 57 ) , "Confidential Newsletter No. 4." ( October 1 9 5 7 ) , "Confi­ dential Newsletter No. 8" (August 1 9 5 8 ) , 6 ( December-January 1 1 9 5 8-59 ) , 6 (February-March 1 9 59 ) , 7 (September 1 960 ) , " Non- 1 Scheduled Newsletter No. 1 1 " ( 1 0 September 1 9 60 ) , 8 (Decem- 1 ber 1 9 6 1 ) , 1 1 (March 1 9 64 ) , 13 (March 1 9 66 ) . 32. Letters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 2 2 September 1 954, and 2 July 1 954 (APRO ) . 3 3 . See "Special Adamski Expose Issue," Saucer News (Octo­ ber 1 9 57 ) ; James Moseley, "Strange New Ideas from Howard Mcrnger," Saucer News ( Non-s cheduled Newsletter No. 26 [25 January 1 966] ) : 1 ; an a ccoun t of the Van Tassel-St. Germain ep­ isode can b e found in CSJ N e wslette r, 1 M ay 1 957, pp.9- 1 0 ; Ruppelt ( 1 959 revision) , p.26 8 ; Saucer News (D ecem b er 1 9 6 1 ) : 15. 3 4. CSJ Ne wsle tter, 1 November 1 957, p . 1 6 . 3 5 . Ruppelt ( 1 959 revision ) , pp.270-7 1 ; le tter from Keyhoe to . Lorenzen, 1 7 July 1 9 5 8 (APRO ) ; interview with Mrs. Ruppelt, 4 1 11 January 1 97 4 ; interview with Robert Friend, 4 January 1 974. 3 6. Godwin, p . 1 44. i . 37. Robert Ellwood, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern , . A merica ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall , 1 973 ) , pp. 1 3 2- 1 : 3 3 , 1 1- 1 9 .


285

Notes 3 8 . H . Taylor Buckner,

"Flying

Saucers

are F o r

People,"

Trans-Action 3 (May-June 1 9 66 ) : 1 0-1 3 ; Buckner, ''The Flying Saucerians : An Open Door Cult," in Marcello Truzzi, ed., Sociol­ ogy and Everyday Life (Englewood Cliffs, N.J . : Prentice-Hall, 1 9 68 ) , pp.223-3 0 ; Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails ( Min­ neapolis, Minn. : University of Minnesota Press, 19 5 6 ) , passim. 3 9 . No good analysis of science fiction movies exists. However, three fair attempts are : John Baxter, Science Fiction in the Cinema (New York: A. S. Barnes, 1 9 70 ) ; Dennis Gifford, Science Fiction Film (London : Dutton, 1 9 69 ) ; Susan Sontag, ''The Imagination of Disaster," Against Interpretation (New York: Dell, Laurel edition, 1 9 69 ) , pp.2 1 2-2 8 . 4 0 . The Day the Earth Stood Still, It Came From Outer Space, and This Island Earth are at the Library of Congress. The Thing is at the State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin. 4 1 . Letter from Keyl;1.0e to Lorenzen, 3 October 1 9 5 6 (APRO ) .

I

6 1954 to 1958: Continued Skinnis hes and the Rise of NICAP 1. James Moseley, Saucer News 3 (June-July 1 9 5 6 ) : 3. Leon Davidson, "The Air Force and The Saucers, Part 1," Saucer News 3 (February-March 1 9 56 ) : 1 3-1 6, and "The Air Force ancf The Saucers, Part II," Saucer News 4 (June-July 1 9 57 ) : 9-1 6. Leon Davidson, ed., Flying Saucers: A n Analysis of the Air Force Special Report No. 14, 4th ed. ( Clarksburg, W.Va. : Saucerian Pub­ lications, 1 970 ) , pp. 145-54 ( all subsequent references to Special Report 14 are to this volume and are listed by report title only ) . 2 . Letter from Donald Keyhoe to Coral Lorenzen, 3 0 March 1 954 (in the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organiza­ : tion, Tucson, Arizona, to which I hereafter refer as APRO ) ; let­ ters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 15 August 1 954 and 22 September ' 1 954 (APRO) . 3. Department of the Air Force, "Air Force Regulation 200-2," 13 August 1 954, contained in Davidson, ed., pp. 1 3 5-3 8, and at the Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, to which I hereafter refer as MAFB. Edward J. Rup­ pelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects ( Garden City, N.Y.; Doubleday, 1956 ) , pp.2 3 1 -3 2 ; Major Robert C. B rown to Commanding General Air Defense Command, "Utilization of 4602nd Personnel in Project Blue Book Field Investigations," 5 March 1 953 (MAFB ) . 4 . Colonel John M . White, Jr., to Commander, Air Technical Intelligence Center, "Report of Visit of ATIC Representatives," 23 November 1 954 (MAFB ) ; United States Air Force, "Status · Report No. 1 1 ," 3 1 May 1 9 5 3 , Projects Grudge and Bluebook Re­ orts 1-12 (Washington, D.C. : National Investigations Commit­ ee on Aerial Phenomena, 1 9 68 ) , p.203 ; Lt. Mary L. Storm to ommander 4602nd (ADC ) , "Unidentified Flying Object Guide," 4 J anuary 1 9 5 5 ( MAFB ) .

1

'


286

Notes

5. Interview with J. Allen Hynek, M arch 1 974. 6. Project Blue Book press releases, which are on file at MAFB and at National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena ( NICAP ) in Kensington, Maryland. 7 . Interview with J. Allen Hynek, March 1 974. 8 . For complete statistics listed in ATIC and 4602 nd reports durin g these years, see a dd it ion to Special Report Number 14, which is a type d insert ( MAFB ) ; Department of Defense, News Rel ease No. 1 1 08-57, 1 5 November 1 957 (APRO & NICAP ) . 9 . Interview with J . Allen Hynek, March 1 974. 1 0. Department of Defense, "Fact Sh e e t , " n.d. late 1953 and early 1 95 4 ? ( NICAP & APRO) ; Department of Defense, News Release No. 1 053-55, 25 October 1 9 5 5 , attachment ( NICAP & APRO ) . See also New York Times, 2 J anuary 1 9 54, p.5; J. Allen Hynek, "Are Flying Sau c ers Real?" Saturday Evening Post, 1 1 December 1 966, pp. 1 7-2 1 . 1 1 . Department o f Defense, "Fact Sheet," n.d . late 1 953 and early 1 954? ( NICAP & APRO ) . 1 2. Charlotte Knight, "Report on Our Flying Saucer Balloons," Collier's, 1 1 June 1 954, pp.50-5 7 ; Siegfried Mandel, "The Great Saucer Hunt," Saturday Review, 6 August 1 9 55, pp.2 8-29 ; ''Wait­ ing for th e Little Green Men," Newsweek, 2 8 March 1 9 5 5 , p.64. 1 3 . New York Tim es, 2 September 1 95 5 , p.3, 16 December 1954, pp. 24, 1 , 26, and 19 December 1 9 54, Sec. IV, p . 8 . 1 4. ''The Saucers Again," A merican A v iation 1 1 ( M arch 1 9 54 ) : 3 . 1 5 . Donald E . K eyho e , The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (New York : Holt, 1955 ) , p.7 and passim. 1 6. Letters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 6 November 1 955 and 28 Octobe r 1955 (APRO ) . 1 7 . Special Report 14, pp.51, 68. 1 8 . Special Repo rt 14, pp.24. 1 9 . Dep ar tm e nt of Defense, Office of Public Information, News Release No. 1 053-55, 2 5 October 1 9 55, c o n ta i n e d in Davidson, ed., pp. D 5 -D 6 . Letters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 1 December 1 9 5 5 and 29 February 1 9 5 6 ( APRO ) . See also Donald E. K ey­ ho e , Flying Saucers: Top Secret ( New York : Putnam, 1 9 60 ) , pp. 1 5 7-60. 20. Letters from Keyhoe to Lore nze n , 1 De ce mbe r 1 9 5 5 and 29 February 1 95 6 (APRO ) . See also Keyhoe, Top Secret, pp. l 57-60. 2 1 . Lette r fro m Rupp el t to Max Miller, 1 3 F eb ru ary 1 9 5 6 (NICAP ) . 22. Information supplied b y Stanton T . Friedman, nuclear physicist and private UFO researcher. 23 . New York Times, 22 January 1 9 56, S e c . 7, p.25; l etter from Charles A. Hardin to G e n e r a l Watson, 7 February 1 9 5 6 ( MAFB ) . 24. Colonel John G. Er iks e n , Memorandum for Director of In-

1

·

I


Notes

287

telligence, "Proposed Reply by the Secretary o f th e Ai r Force to the letter from the Honorable John E. Moss, Cha irman, Govern­ ment Information Subcommittee of the Committee on Govern­ ment Operations," 25 June 1 95 6 ( MAFB ) ; letter from Donald A. Q uarles to Representative John E. Moss, 5 July 1 9 5 6 ( MAFB ) ; A. Francis Arcier to George T. Gregory, " Request-Progress on S tatus of 'Blue Book' Printing and Dissemination," 8 April 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; letter from John E. Moss to Donald A. Quarles, 17 June 1956 (MAFB ) . 25. Cap tain George T. Gregory, "Lecture on UFO Pro gram for the ATI School," n.d., pp. 1 - l l ( MAFB ) . 26. J . All en Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 972 ) , p . 1 8 1 . 27. The information in thi s section was derived from case files at MAFB. 28. This film is in the Library of Congress Film Archives. 29. Christian Science Monitor, 1 May 1 95 6 . Captain Gregory's marginal comments are contained in a special file at MAFB. G eorge T. Gregory, "Memorandum for AFOIN-4X1 ," 17 May 1 95 6 (at MAFB ; AFOIN, and later AFCIN, is the Air Force Of­ fice of Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence) ; Gregory, "Memorandom for The Scientific Advisor," 21 May 1 956 ( MAFB ) ; Gregory, "Memorandum for Office of the Scient ific Ad­ visor," 5 June 1 95 6 ( MAFB ) ; Colonel John Eriksen, "Memo ran­ ' dum for Director of Intellige nce, " 1 June 1 9 5 6 ( MAFB ) ; ' Brigadier General Harold E. Wats on to A. M. Rochlen, n.d. (MAFB ) . See also file on motion picture at MAFB . 30. For a convenient compilation of most years of sighting re­ of . ports, see Ed wa rd U. Con don, pr oj e ct director, Scientific Study Unidentified Flying Objects ( New York : Bantam ed., 1 9 69 ) , p.5 1 4. Many of the statistics are not consistent with Blue Book · statistics. For Blue Book's version, see "Project Blue Book, 1 9 641 968" ( MAFB, APRO, NICAP ) . 3 1 . UFO Investigator, Oct ober 1 97 1 , pp. 1-4; letters from Key­ hoe to Lorenzen, 3 October 1 9 5 6 and 2 1 Octo ber 1956 (APRO ) .

I

3 2. Let ters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 22 January 1 957 and 1 February 1957 (APRO ) ; Keyhoe, Top Secret, p.44. See also Mor­ ris K. Jessup, "A Report on Washington, D.C.'s NICAP," Saucer News 4 (February-March 1 9 57 ) : 5 . 3 3 . Letter fr o m Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 3 0 March 1 9 54 (APRO ) . See also letter from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 6 November 1 955 (APRO ) .

34. Keyhoe, Top Secret, p . 20 . See al s o UFO Investigator, July 1957, for s hort biographies of members of the board of governors. UFO Investigator, July 1957, pp.28, 30. 3 5. UFO Investigator, October 1 9 7 1 , p . 1 ; letters from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 1 Feb ru ary 1 957 (APRO ) . 3 6 . Letter from Keyhoe to Lorenzen, 1 0 June 1 957 (APRO ) ;


Notes

288

Donald Keyhoe, "Statement by Maj or Donald E. Keyhoe, Director of NI CAP ," 7 March 1 957 (NICAP & APRO ) . 3 7 . UFO Investigator, July 1 957, p. l . 3 8 . Colonel Leonard T. Glaser, Memorandum to Commander, Air Technic�\! Intelligence Center, "UFO Program," 1 7 December 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; letter from M ajor Robert F. Spence to Max Mil­ ler, 1 1 June 1 957 (NICAP ) ; letter from Major General Joe W. Kelly to Don al d Keyhoe, 1 5 November 1 957 ( NICAP ) . 3 9 . Colonel Frank B. Chappell to Chief, AFOIN-X, "New AF OIN-4 Plan on UFOBs,'' 1 5 May 1 957 ( MAFB ) ; Colonel Frank B. Chappell to AFOIN-XI Colonel Hurley, "New AFOIN4 Plan on UFOBs,'' n.d. ( MAFB ) ; Memorandum ( unsigned ) to Chief, AFCIN-XI, "New AFCIN-4 Plan on UFOBs,'' 13 Febru­ ary 1 9 5 8 ( MAFB ) ; A. Francis Arcier, Memorandum for Director of Intelligence, "Publication of UFO Special Report No. 1 4,'' 4

January 1 957 (MAFB ) 40. Air Force Regulation 200-2, 5 February 1 9 5 8 ( MAFB ) ; Memorandum to Director AFOIN-4, "Publication of UFO Special Report No. 1 4,'' 10 May 1 95 7 (MAFB ) ; Keyhoe, Conspiracy, pp.24-25. 4 1 . Colonel John W. M e ador , AISS, to th e Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence, Headquarters, U SAF, "Processing of Reports of UF O Sightings," 8 October 1 95 3 ( MAFB ) ; Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff H a rold E. Watson to General Charles B. Dougher, Commander ATIC, "The UFO Program," 21 July 1 959 ( MAFB ) ; Air F o rce Regulation 200-2, 1 4 September 1 959, contained in Lawrence J. Tacker, Flying Saucers and the U.S. Air Force ( Princ e t on, N.J . : Van No str and, 1 9 60 ) , pp.9 1-98. 42. Cond on Scientific Study of UFOs, p.5 1 4 . •

43. These sightings are more fully discussed in Hyn ek , The UFO Experience, pp. 123-28 ; his analysis is based on a NICAP study. The information for the Level lan d sightings is contained in "Air Intelligence Information Report,'' No. 1 4 1 957, 2-8 November 1957 ( M AF B) . See also New York Times, 4 November 1 957, p.4. 44. Hyn ek, The UFO Experience, p. 1 24. 45. "Air Inte ll i ge n c e Information Report," No. 1 4 1 957, 2-8 November 1 95 7, p.5 ( MAFB ) ; Hyn ek, The UFO Experience, ,

p. 1 25. 46. Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp. 1 2 5-26. 47. Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp. 1 26, 1 0, 1 26. 48. "Air Intelligence Info rm ation Report," No. 1 4 1 957, 2-8 Novemb er 1 957, p. 1 6 ( MAFB ) . 49. New York Times, 5 November 1 957, p.22; Hynek, The UFO Experience, p . 1 2 8 . 50. George T . G reg ory, D isp o sition Form, "Request for Air Scien ce Division Review of Levelland Cas e, ' 4 December 1 957 (MAFB ) ; Department of Defense, News Release No. 1 1 08-57, 1 5 Nove mb e r 1 957 ( NICAP & AP RO ) . 5 1 . George T. G re go ry, Disposition Form, "Request for Air '


No tes Science Division Review of Levelland Case," 4 December

(MAFB ) .

289

1957

52. De p artme nt of Defense, News Release No. 1 083-58, 5 November 1 957 (NICAP & APRO ) ; New York Times, 7 November 1957, p.24. 5 3 . New York Times, 6 November 1 957, p. 1 2 ; Condon, Scien­ ·

tific Study of UFOs, p.5 14. 54. Memorandum (unsigned) t o Chief, AFCIN-XI, "New AFCIN-4 Plan on UFOBs," 13 February 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) . 55. Keyhoe, Top Secret, pp . 1 5 5 65. 56. Letter from Lawrence Tacker to unspecilied person, 12 March 1 958 (MAFB ) ; Memorandum (unsigned ) to Chief, AFCIN-XI, "New AFCIN-4 Plan on UFOBs," 13 February 1958 -

(MAFB ) . 7 The Battle for Congressional Hearings

1. Letter (unsigned ) from Air Force Office of Legislative Li­ aison to Frelinghuysen, 1 2 September 1957 ( in the files of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Ken­ sington, Maryland, to which I hereafter refer as NICAP ) ; letter from Major General Joe W. Kelly, Director of Legislative Liaison to Lee Metcalf, 1 1 January 1 957 (NICAP ) . 2. Colonel Glen W. Clark, Chief Public Information Division, OIS, Memorandum for Deputy Director of Information Services, SAFS, "Congressional Public Hearings-Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects," 3 February 1958 (in the files of the Air Force Archives, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, to which I hereafter refer as MAFB ) . See also Donald E. Keyhoe, Flying Saucers: Top Secret ( New York : Putnam, 1 9 60 ) , pp. 8 1 -96. Memorandum for Chief AFCIN-XI, "New AFCIN-4 Plan on UFOBs,'' 1 3 February 1958 (MAFB ; AFCIN stands for Air Force Office of Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence ) . 3 . Memorandum for Chief AFCIN-XI, "New AFCIN-4 Plan on UFOBs,'' 1 3 February 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; Major General Arno H. Luehman, Memorandum for Director of Legislative Liaison, "McClellan Subcommittee Statement Concerning Air Force Han­ dling of UFO Reports,'' 28 February 1 958 ( MAFB ) ; Major Gen­ eral Joe W. Kelly, Memorandum for Director of Information Services, "McClellan Subcommittee Statement Concerning Air Force Handling of UFO Reports,'' 3 March 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) . 4 . Letter from John E. Henderson to Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy, 8 May 1 958 ( MAFB ) ; Major Byrne, Memorandum for the Record, "Briefing of Representative Henderson and Col­ leagues on the Air Force Unidentified Flying Object (UFO ) Pro­ gram," 23 June 1958 ( MAFB ) . 5 . Major General W. P . Fisher, Director of Legislative Liaison, Memorandum for the Under Secretary of the Air Force, "Hear­ ings on Unidentified Flying Objects,'' n.d. (MAFB ) ; Colonel


290

Bourne

Notes Adekson,

Memorandum for

Deputy

Director

of

Legislative

Liaison,

the Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence, "Hear­

ings on Unidentified Flying Objects," 6 August 1958 (MAFB ) ; Major Byrne, Memorandum for the Record, "Hearings on Uni­ dentified Flying Objects (UFO ) ," 1 2 Au gust 1 95 8 (MAFB ) . 6 . Major General W. P. Fisher, Memorandum for the Under Secretary of the Air Force, "Air Force Briefing for the Subcom­ mittee on Atmospheric Phenomena, House Select Committee on A'Stronautics and Space Exploration, on U nidentified Flying Ob­ jects," 1 1 August 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; George T. Gregory, Transcript of UFO Briefing, "UFO Program," 8 Au gus t 1958, pp.1-1 1 (MAFB ) . 7. George T. Gregory, Transcript o f UFO Briefing, "UFO Pro­ gram," 8 August 1958, pp. 1-l l (MAFB ) .

8. Ibid.

9. For examples, see : l etters from Major General Fisher to Senator Harry F. Byrd, 20 January 1959; Fisher to Senator Mike Momoney, 4 June 1959; Fisher to Senator Barry Goldwater, 29 July 1 959 (NICAP ) . 1 0. Letter from Richard Homer, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Res earch and Development, to Senator Barry Gold­ water, January 1 9 5 8 (NICAP ) ; letter from Major General Fisher to Senator B yrd, 20 January 1 959 (NICAP ) . 1 1 . Department o f Defense, Air Force Fact Sheet No. 986-58, 6

October 1 958 (NICAP ) . 1 2. Ibid.

1 3 . Colonel Leonard T. Glaser, Memorandum for Commander of Air Technical Intelligence Center, "UFO Program," 1 7 Decem­ ber 1958 ( MAFB ) ; Major General Charles B. Dougher to As­ sistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence, Draft, 1 6 December 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; Draft of propo sed message to all Major Commands, n.d. (MAFB ) . 14. Colonel Glaser, "UFO Program," 17 December 1 9 5 8 (MAFB ) ; Major General Dougher, Draft, 1 6 December 1 9 5 8 ( MAFB ) ; Draft o f proposed message t o a ll Major Commands,

n.d. (MAFB ) . 1 5. Colonel William E. Boyd, Disposition Form, "Support of the UFO Program," n.d. ( MAFB ) ; William E. Boyd, Disposition

Form, to AFCIN-4X4, "UFO Program," n.d. (MAFB ) ; Boyd Disposition Form, to AFCIN-4X5, "Support of UFO Program," n.d. (MAFB ) ; Boyd, Disposition Form, to AFCIN-4X6, "UFO Program," n.d. ( MAFB ) ; Charles B . Dougher to Briga dier Gen eral Howe, "UFO Program," 17 December 1958 (MAFB ) ; Leonard T. Glaser, Memorandum for the Record, 1 6 December 1 9 5 8 ( MAFB ) . 1 6. J . Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific l1111. uiry (Chicago_: Henry Regnery, 1 972 ) , p . 1 87. 17. Interview with Robert Friend, 7 January 1 974. 18. Robert J. Friend, Memorandum for the Record, "Uniden-

-

� f


Notes

29 1

tified Flying Object · Conference," n.d. (20 February 1959 ? ) , pp.2-3 (MAFB ) . 1 9 . Ibid . 20. Ibid. 2 1 . Colonel H. K. Gilbert to Lt. Colonel Parris, Disposition Form, "Unidentified Flying Objects Advisory Panel," 1 6 March 1 959 (MAFB ) ; Colonel Vincent C. Rethman to Theodore Hieatt, 29 April 1 959 (MAFB ) ; Rethman to Chaplain Graham, 8 May 1 959 ( MAFB ) ; R. J. Friend, "AFCIN-4E4g Weekly Activity Re­ port," 8 May 1959 ( MAFB ) . 22. Memorandum for the Record, ''Meeting o f UFO Panel," 7 April 1 9 60, 12 April 1 960 (MAFB ) ; interview with J. Allen Hy­ nek, 27 September 1 972. 23 . USAF UFO Program," unsigned, 28 September 1 959, pp. 1-3 (MAFB ) . See also Dougher to AFCIN ( General Walsh) , "UFO Program," n.d. ( MAFB ) . 24. Colonel Richard R. Shoop, "Study by AFCIN-4E4, Uni­ dentified Flying Objects-Project #5771 ( Blue Book) ," 28 Sep­ tember 1 959, pp. 1-2 (MAFB ) . 25. Colonel Shoop, "Study by AF CIN-4 E4 on UFOs," 2 8 Sep­ tember 1 959, pp. 1 , 2, 3 (MAFB ) . 26. Ibid. 27. "Study by AFCIN-4E4, Unidentified Flying Objects Pro­ gram Project #57 7 1 ( Blue Book ) ," unsigned, n.d., p.2 ( MAF B ) ; this document differs somewhat from the Shoop memorandum above. Colonel Shoop, "Study by AFCIN-4E4 on UFOs," 28 Sep­ tember 1 959, pp.2, 3 (MAFB ) . See also Charles B. Dougher to AFCIN (General Walsh ) , "UFO Program," 28 September 1 959 (MAFB ) . 28. Shoop to Lt. General Bernard A. Schriever, "Transfer of USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," 1 December 1 959 ( MAFB ) ; Major General James Ferguson to Headquarters, USAF (AFCIN ) , "Transfer of USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," S February 1 960 (MAFB ) ; Colonel Aaron J. Boggs, Referral No­ tice, ''Transfer of USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," 7 March 1960 ( MAFB ) ; letter from J. Allen Hynek to General Holzman, 17 February 1 960 (MAFB ) ; letter from General Holzman to J. Allen Hynek, 8 March 1 960 (MAFB ) . 29. Colonel Philip G . Evans to AFCIN-4 (M/Gen. Dougher) , "Transfer o f USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," 3 1 March 1 9 60 (MAFB ) ; A. Francis Arcier, Memorandum for Major General Dougher, ''Transfer of UFO," 1 April 1 960 (MAFB ) ; letter (un­ signed ) to AFCIN ( Major General Walsh) , "Transfer of USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," n.d. (MAFB ) ; Major General Wa1sh to SAFOI (Major General A. H. Luehman) , ''Transfer of USAF Aerial Phenomena Program," nd .. ( MAFB ) . 3 0. Keyhoe, Top Secret, p.274, passim. 3 1 . Robert J. Friend, "Memorandum for the Record," n.d. (MAFB ) ; interview with Robert Friend, 7 January 1974.


292

Notes

3 2 . UFO Investigator 1 ( December-January 1 9 60-6 1 ) : 3 . 3 3 . Lawrence Tacker, Flying Saucers a n d t h e U.S. A ir Force (Princeton, N.J . : Van Nostrand, 1 9 60 ) , pp. 1 2, 1 6, 1 7 , 1 8. 3 4 . Tacker, p.83 . 3 5. Tacker, p . 8 4. 3 6 . Tacker, pp. 85, 47, 87. See also letter from Colonel Carl M. Nelson to Senator Philip A. Hart, 4 April 1 9 60 (NICAP ) . 3 7 . Transcript, "Washington Viewpoint," 20 December 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) . 3 8 . Robert J . Friend to AFCIN-4E ( Colonel Evans ) , "Possible Congressional Hearing," 7 June 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Richard R. Shoop, "UFO Brie fing," 1 1 July 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Robert J . Friend, Task Activity Report, 1 8 July 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Colonel Philip G. Evans, "UFO Case Summaries," 2 8 July 1 9 60 (MAFB ) . 3 9 . Friend, Task Activity Report, 1 8 July 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Hy­ nek, The UFO Experience, pp.267-69. 40. Major General Amo H . Luehman, Director of Information, Memorandum for Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence, "Uniden­ tified Flying Objects," 2 August 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) . 4 1 . Task Activity Report, 2 0 July 1 9 60 (MAFB ) ; Richard R. Shoop to AFCIN-4X6, "ATIC Capability for Investigating Sight­ ings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," 20 July 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Philip G. Evans to Lt. Colonel Sullivan, "ATIC Capability for Investigating Sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." 29 July 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) ; Luehman to Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelli­ gence, 2 August 1 9 60 (MAFB ) ; Colonel Barton S. Pulling, Chief of Staff, ATIC, to AFCIN-P, 17 August 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) . 42. Shoop to AFCIN-4X6, "ATIC Capability," 20 July 1 9 60 (MAFB ) ; Friend to AFCIN-R, Joint Messageform, 26 January 1 9 6 1 (MAFB ) . 43 . Philip G . Evans to Lt. Colonel Tacker, "ATIC UFO Inves­ tigation Capability," 17 March 1 9 6 1 ( MAFB ) . 44. Department of Defense, News Release, "Fact Sheet Air Force UFO Report," No. 8 1 2-60, 2 1 July 1 960 ( NICAP and the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona, to which I hereafter refer as APRO ) ; Philip G. Evans to Headquarters USAF, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." 27 De. cember 1 9 60 ( MAFB ) . · 45. Letter from Carl M. Nelson to Senator Oren E. Long, 27 April 1 960 (NICAP ) ; letter from Joseph Kingsley to John Car- .� starphen, 26 May 1 960 ( NICAP ) ; letter from Gordon B. Knight to Estes Kefauv er, 6 April 1 9 60 (NICAP ) . 46. Springfield ( Massachusetts ) Union, contained in UFO In­ vestigator 1 1 (January-February 1 9 62 ) : 3 ; UFO Investigator 1 1 , (July-August 1 9 6 1 ) : 1 ; UFO Investigator 1 1 (October 1 9 6 1 ) : 1 .

;

47. UFO Investigator 1 1 (July-August 1 9 6 1 ) : 1-4. 48. Colonel Edward H. Wynn to Brigadier General Arthur A. Pierce, Commander, Air Force Systems Command, "Con­ gressional Investigation of the UFO Program," 14 July 1 9 6 1


Notes

293

(MAFB ) ; Robert Friend to AFSC (SCGP ) , "Congressional Committee Staff Member Visit," 25 August 1 9 6 1 (MAFB ) . 49. Letter from Richard P. Hines to Robert J . Friend, 2 1 Au­ gust 1 9 6 1 (MAFB ) . 50. Letter from Joseph E. Karth to Donald E . Keyhoe, 2 8 Au­ gust 1 9 6 1 (NI CAP & MAFB ) ; Robert J. Friend to Colonel Wynn, "Unidentified Flying Objects," 4 December 1 9 6 1 (MAFB ) . 5 1 . UFO Investigator 1 1 (October 1 9 6 1 ) : 2 ; letter from Joseph E. Karth to Donald Keyhoe, 19 September 1 9 6 1 , contained in, UFO Investigator 1 1 (October 1 9 6 1 ) : 1 . 52. Interview with Coral Lorenzen, June 1 97 1 . 5 3 . The A .P.R.O. Bulletin, July 1 9 62 ; letter from Richard Hall to Coral Lorenzen, 7 September 1962 (APRO ) ; letter from Coral Lorenzen to Richard Hall, 20 September 1 9 62 (APRO ) . 54. Saucer News 5 (August-September 1 9 5 8 ) : 1 1-1 3 . See also Winston F. Gardlebacher, "Does NICAP Really Exist?,'' Saucer News 15 ( Summer 1 9 6 8 ) : 9- 1 1 ; Frank Strange, "NICAP Has Gone Too Far!,'' Saucer News 15 (Summer 1 9 68 ) : 2-3 . Letter from Donald Keyhoe to Zan Overall, 1 9 September 1 9 5 8 (NI­ CAP ) . See also telegram from Donald Keyhoe to Gabriel Green, 6 July 1 959 (APRO ) : "This is to warn you against repeating any claim that the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phe­ nomena is part of your flying saucer clubs organization." Letter from Donald Keyhoe to NICAP membership, 30 June 1 9 6 1 (APRO ) . 55. See also UFO Investigator, special issue (October 1 9 62) , for basic outline of this compendium. 56. Edward U. Condon, project director, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (New York: Bantam ed., 1969 ) , p. 5 1 4. 51. Robert J. Friend to Colonel Wynn, "Trip Report (UFO ) ,'' 9 April 1 9 62 (MAFB ) ; Edward H. Wynn to Headquarters USAF, "Project Blue Book (Unidentified Flying Objects) ," 20 April 1 9 62 (MAFB ) . 5 8 . Friend to Wynn, "Trip Report (UFO ) ," 9 April 1 9 62 (MAFB ) ; Wynn to Colonel Carlisle, "Unidentified Aerial Phe­ nomena," n.d. (MAFB ) . 59. Friend to Wynn, "Trip Report (UFO ) ," 9 Ap ril 1 962 (MAFB ) ; Wynn to Headquarters USAF, "Project Blue Book (Unidentified Flying Objects ) ,'' 20 April 1 9 62 (MAFB ) ; Wynn to Carlisle, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," n.d. (MAF B ) . 60. Hynek, The UFO Experience, p . 1 9 8 . See also James E. McDonald, Unidentified Flying Objects: Greatest Scientific Prob­ lem of Our Times, address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (Washington, D.C. : Pittsburgh Subcommittee of NICAP' 1 967; published at author's request) . 6 1 . Interview with Quintanil l a , in Herbert Strentz' "A Survey of Press Attitudes Toward UFOs, 1 947- 1 9 66" (Ph.D. dissertation, Northwe stern University, 1970 ) , pp.21 6-17. ·


294

Notes

62. Draft (uns i gn ed ) of l e tte r to Carl Vmson, n.d. (MAFB) . See also Comm and e r Arthur I . Pierce to Lt. Colo n el Desert, 1 8 July 1 9 63 (MAFB ) ; Colonel Eri c de Jonckheere, Staff S ummary S h eet. "Congre ssional Correspo n d en c e on the U.S. Air F or ce

UFO Program, Congressman Carl Vins on , " 1 8 July 1963 ( MAFB ) ; Colonel de Jonckheere, Memorandum to Headqu arters, USAF, " Unidentified Flying Objects," 22 J uly 1963 ( MAFB ) . 6 3 . Richard Hall, ed., The UFO Evidence (Washington. D.C. : NICAP, 1 9 64 ) ; see United S tate s Air Force, "Project Blue Book, 1 9 � 1 9 67" (MAFB , NICAP, APRO ) . 64 . Donald Menzel and Lyle G. B oyd, The World of Flying Saucers ( Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 9 63 ) , pp. 1 5, 1 3 3 , 1 3 4. 65. Menze l and B oyd, pp. 1 42, 1 4 3 ; "Project B lue B ook, 1 9 � 67" (MAFB, NICAP, APRO ) . 66. Socorro, New Mexico, sighting information o n file at MAFB. See also Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp. 1 44-45. 67. Ibid. 68. Ibid. 69. Socorro, New Mexico, sighting information on file at MAFB. See also Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp. 1 44-45 ; Chris­ tian Science Monitor, 1 M ay 1 9 64, p . 3 . 7 0 . Socorro, New Mexico, sighting information on file at

MAFB.

8 1965: The Turning Point in the Controversy 1. Herbert S trentz, "A Surve y of Press Coverage of Uniden­

tified Flying Objects, 1 947- 1 9 66" (Ph.D. dissertation. North­ western University, 1 970 ) , p.47. 2. Charleston ( S o u th Carolina) Evening Post, 16 July 1 9 65; Orlando ( Florida ) Sentinel, 21 September 1 9 65, p. l 3 -b.

3. Fort Worth Star Telegram, Richmond (Virginia) New!J Times-Star, cite d in Orlando Sentinel, 21 September 1 9 65 , p . l 3 b . 4. Christian Science Monitor, 1 6 August 1 9 65, p . 1 , 2 1 August 19 65, p . B- 1 , 3 September 1 9 65, p.5. 5 . Edward U. Condon, project director, Sci entific Study of Uni­ dentified Flying Objects (New York: B antam ed., 1 9 69 ) , p.514; San FerTUJndo (California) Valley Times, 4 August 1 9 65. 6. Wall Stre e t JourTUJI, 1 3 D ecembe r 1965, pp. 1 , 20. 1. John Fuller, "Tradewinds : Report of an Unid entified Flying Object in Exe ter, N.IL," Saturday Review, 2 October 1 9 65, p. 1 0; John Fuller, Incident at Ereter (New York : G. P. Putnam, 1 9 6 6 ) , passim; Fuller, "Incident at Exe t er, Look, 22 February Leader, and A lameda ( California) -

"

1966.

8 . Full e r, "Tradewinds : Exe ter People Give Accounts of Obser­ vations," Saturday R ev iew , 22 J anuary 1 9 66, p 1 4 ; Fuller, "Trade­ winds : U.S. Air Force's R eaction s to Recent Sightings," Saturday .


Notes

295

Review, 1 6 April 1 9 6 6 , p. 1 0 ; UFO Investigator 3 (January-Febru­ ary 1 9 66 ) : 5 . 9. UFO Investigator 3 (January-February 1 9 6 6 ) : 5-6. 10. J. A ll en Hynek, Th e UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (Chicag o : Henry Regn ery, 1 972) , p . 1 9 8 ; General E. B. LeBailly, Memorandum for M il itary Director, Scientific Advisory Board, "Unidentified Fl y ing Objects (UFOs ) ," 28 September 1 965 ( in t he files a t th e Air F orce Archives at Maxwell Air Force Ba s e in Montgomery, Alabama, to wh ich I h ereafter refer as MAFB ) , and also contained in Condon, pp . 8 1 6- 1 7 . 1 1 . LeBailly, M emo ran du m for Military Director, Scientific Advisory Board, "Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs ) ," 28 Sep­ tember 1965 (MAFB ) , and also contained in Condon, pp. 8 1 6-17. 1 2. "Special Report of the USAF Scientific Advisory Board Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project 'Blue Book'," March 1 9 6 6, pp. 1-9 (MAFB and in Condon, pp. 8 1 1-1 5 ) . 1 3 . Ibid. 14. Ibid. 15. Gallup Political Index, Re p ort No. 1 1 , April 1966 (Ameri­ can Institute of Public Opin ion ) , p. 1 3 . See also Georg e H. G al­ lup, The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion I935-1971, vol. 2 (New York : Random House, 1972 ) , p . 2 00 4 . 1 6. New York Times, 23 M ar ch 1 9 66, p.22. For a g ood sum­ mary of the Dexter sighting, see "We ll-Wi tn es s ed Invasion by Some thin g : Australia to Michi g an, '' Life, 1 April 1 966, pp.24-3 1 . 1 7. J. All en Hyn ek , "Are Flying Saucers Real?,'' Saturday Eve­ ning Post, 1 7 December 1 966, p.20; David R. Saunders and R. Roger Harkins, UFOs? Yes! ( New York : Signet, 1 9 6 8 ) , p.6 1 . 1 8. Hynek, "Are Flying S aucer s Real?," p.20; Stren tz , "A Sur­ vey of Press Coverage of UF Os," p.52. See also Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer, 27 March 1966, pp. 1 , 3 . 1 9 . Life, 1 April 1 966, pp.24-3 1 ; "Notes an d Comment: Saucer Flap,'' The New Yorker, 9 April 1 966, p.3 3 ; "Fatuus Season : Ann Arbor and H ill sd ale Sightings,'' Time, 1 April 1 966, p.25B; Wis­ consin State Journal ( Madison) , 26 March 1 9 66 , p, 1 , and 29 M arch 1 9 6 6 (private clippin g ) . 20. New York Times, 27 March 1 9 66, Pt. 4, p.2 and p.6 1 , 23 March 1 9 66, p.43 ; Christian Science Monitor, 30 March 1 9 66, p.24, 1 1 April 1 966, p. 1 6. 2 1 . New Yo rk Times, 26 March 1966, p.3 1 ; Gerald Ford to L Mendel Rivers, 28 March 1 9 6 6, in U.S. Hou s e, Committe e on Armed Se rvi ce s, Hearings, Uniden tified Flying Objects, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 5 April 1 966, pp . 6 04 6-4 7 (I he reafter refer to this as Hearings) ; Detroit News, 30 M arch 1966, p. lO. 22. Hearings, pp.60 1 1-42. 23. Hearings, pp.599 1-6005. 24. Hearings, pp.6007-8. 25. Hearings, pp. 6 045, 6069-74. 26. Li euten ant Colonel Thomas J. Hester, "History of the


296

Notes

Directorate of Science and Technology Deputy Chief of Staff, Research and D evelopmen t, 1 January 1 9 6 6 through 30 June 1 966," n.d., pp.27-28 (typescript at MAFB ) ; U. Colonel Harold A. Steiner, Memorandum for the Record, Impl ementing SAB Ad Hoc Committee on Project Blue Book Recommendations," 20 April 1966 (MAFB ) ; U.S. House, Committee on Foreign Affairs , Hearings, Foreign A ssistance A ct of 1966, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 30 March 1966, pp.330, 332. 27. Steiner, Memorandum for the Record, "Implementing SAB Ad Hoc Committee on Project Blue Book Recommendations," 20 April 1 966, pp. 1 , 2 (MAFB ) . 28. Steiner, Memorandum for the Record, Imple menting SAB Ad Hoc Committee on Project Blue Book Recommendations," 20 April 1966, pp. 1 , 2 (MAFB ) ; Lt. Colonel Robert R. Hippler, Me morandum for the Record, "Scientific Panel to Investigate Re­ ported S ightin gs of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs ) ," 22 April 1966 (MAFB ) . 29. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Af­ fairs ) , "Air Force to Contract with Scientists for UFO Investiga­ tions," 9 May 1 9 6 6 (MAFB ) . Most of the information for the section on placing the Colorado project was obtained from Saun­ ders and Harkins. pp.25-29. 30. Saunders and Harkins, pp.29, 28, 29. 3 1 . Nation, 26 September 1966, p.269; Major David J. Shea, "The UFO Phenomenon : A Study in Pub lic Relations" (Master's thesis, University of Denver, 1972 ) , Appendix C, pp. 150-5 1 , 1 57. 32. Letter from James E. McDonald to T. F. Malone, 20 Ju ly 1966 (personal files ) ; Saunders and Harkins, pp.39-4 1 . 3 3 . D enver Post, 7 October 1966, p.3, and 6 October 1 966, pp. 1 , 1 9 ; see also New York Times, 14 August 1966, pp. 1 , 70. 34. Denver Post, 7 October 1 966, p.22; J ohn Lear, Re search in America: Dr. Condon's Study Outlined," Sa turday Review, 3 December, 1 966, p.87; Denver Post, 7 October 1966, p.3. 35. Hynek, Sa tu rday Evening Post, pp. 1 7-21 ; UFO Investigator 3 (October-November 1 9 66 ) : 2. 3 6. Union City (New Jersey) Hudson Dispatch, 21 October 1 96 6 (from the files of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Kensington, Maryland, to which I hereafter refer as NICAP ) ; Hollywood (California ) Citizen-News, 27 Oc­ to b er 1 966, p.A- 2 ; Can Dr. Condon See It Through?," Nation, 3 1 October 1966, p.43 6; see also "Condon for Regent," Nation, 26 September 1966, p. 269. 37. Quoted in Denver Post, 9 October 1 966, p.29. 38. Denver Rocky Mountain· News, 8 October 1966; s ee also Denver Post, 8 October 1 966, p.26. 39. Denver Post, 9 October 1 966, p.47, and 1 1 October 1966, p.2 1 . 40 . Boulder D aily Camera, 3 0 October 1 966, pp. 1 , 6; New "

"

_t

"

"

-i


297

Notes

York Times, 1 6 November 1 9 66, p.28; Elmira (New York) Star­ Gazette, 26 January 1 9 67 (NICAP ) . 4 1 . Lt. Colonel Robert R. Hippler, Memorandum for the Record, "Scientific Panel to Investigate Reported Sightings of Unidentified Flying O bj ects ," 22 April 1 966 ( MAFB ) ; Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper, Deputy Chief of Staff for Foreign Technol­ ogy, to Foreign Technology Division, "Scientific Panel Investiga­ tion of Unidentified Flying O bj ec ts , " 2 June 1 966 (MAFB ) ; U.S. Air Force, "Air Force Regulation 80- 1 7," 19 S ep temb er 1966, contained in Condon, pp. 8 1 9-28. 42. See Walter Sullivan's review in the Ne w York Times, 21 August 1 966, p.27; Daniel Cohen, "Review of Incident at Exeter," Science Digest, O ctob e r 1 966, pp.42-44; "Heavenly Bogeys," Tim e, 2 September 1 966, pp.8 1-82; Oscar Handlin, "Readers' Choice," A tlantic Monthly 21 8 (Augus t 1 9 66 ) : 1 1 7. 43. John Le ar, ''Th,e Disputed CIA Document on UFOs," Sat­ urday Review, 3 September 1 9 66, pp.45-50; New York Times, 2 1 October 1966, p . 9; Denver Post, 9 October 1 966, p.29. 44. "UFO's for Real?," Newsweek, 1 0 October 1 966, p.70. 45. J. Allen Hynek, " UFO s Merit Scientific Study," Science, 21

October 1966, p.329. 46. Ibid. 47. New York Times, 1 6 November 1 9 66, p.28, 4 April 1966, p.33 ; Christian Science Monitor, 21 Ap ril 1 966, p . 1 8 ; Isaac Asi· mov, "UFOs-What I Think," Science D igest, June 1 9 66, p . 4 7 48. Philip J. Klass, "Plasma Theory May Explain Many UFOs," Aviation Week, 22 August 1 9 66, pp.48-50 + ; Klass, "Many UFOs Are Identified as Plasmas," A v iation Week, 3 October 1 966, pp.54-55 + ; Klass, UFOs-Identified (New York: Random House, 1968 ) ; New York Times, 23 August 1 9 66, p . 3 6 ; John ' Lear, "Scientific Explanation for the UFO s ?," Saturday Review, 1 October 1 966, pp.67-69; "Great Balls of Fire," Newsweek, S Sep­ tember 1966, p.7 8 ; "Management Newsletter," Electrical World, 1 5 April 1 968, pp. 5 7 6 0 ; Chicago Tribune, 9 October 1966, pp. 1B, 2B; "UFOs or Kugelblitz?," Popular Electronics, Septem­ ber 1 966, p84. 49. For critiques of Klass's theory, see : James McDonald, Un i­ dentified Flying Objects: Greatest Scientific Problem of Our Times, address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Ap ril 1 9 66 (Washington, D.C. : Pittsburgh Subcommittee of NI­ CAP, 1967; publish ed at the Author's request) ; Chicago Tribune, 9 October 1 966, pp. 1 B , 2B. For electrical engineers' critique, see : "Management Newsletter," Electrical World, 1 5 April 1 968, pp.57-60 . Also see Richard Hall's letter to the editor A viation Week, 10 October 1966, p. 1 3 0. 50. William Markowitz, "The Physics and Metaphysics of Uni­ dentified Flying O bjects , Science, 1 5 Septemb e r 1 967, pp. 127479. 51. Richard J . Rosa, "Letters," Science, 8 December 1967, .

-

,

"


298

Notes

p. 1 265; William T. Powers, "Letters," Science, 8 December 1 967 , p. 1265; Jacques Vallee, "Letters," Science, 8 December 1 967, p. 1266. 52. Carl Sagan and I. S. Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Uni­ verse (San Francisco : Holden-Day, 1966 ) ; see also John Lear, "What Are the Unidentified Aerial Objects?," Saturday Review, 6 August 1966, pp.4 1-49. Carl Sagan, "The Saucerian Cult," Satur­ day Review, 6 August 1966, pp.50-52. 5 3 . Hynek, Science, 21 October 1 966, p.329; Hynek, "White Paper on UFOs," Christian Science Monitor, 23 May 1967, p.9; Hynek, ''The UFO Gap," Playboy, December 1967, pp . 1 43-46 267, 2 69-7 1 . 54. McDonald, UFOs: Greatest Scientific Problem, pp.6, 17. 55. McDonald, UFOs: Greatest Scientific Problem, p.l l . 56. "Resume o f telephone conversation between Colonel Stan­ ley (in Col. Jack's office, SAFOI ) and Colonel Holum 4 April 1 9 67," n.a. (typescript at MAFB ) . 51. Ibid. 58. Letter from James E. McDonald to Richard Hall, 8 March 1 9 69 (personal files ) . 59. Interview with J . Allen Hynek, February 1 972. 60. Letter from J ames McDonald to Richard Hall, 1 0 February 1 9 7 1 (personal files ) . 6 1 . See "AIAA Committee Loo ks at UFO Problem," Astronau­ tics and A eronautics, December 1 9 68, p . 1 2 ; "Background," As­ tronautics and A eronautics, November 1 970, p.5 1 . I will discuss the AIAA's conclusions and recommendations in chapter 9. 62. New York Times, 16 November 1 966, p.28; "Out of This ,

World : COnvention of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America," Newsweek, 7 November 1 9 6 6, p.3 8; New York Times, 1 6 November 1 966, p. 2 8. 63. Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers-Serious Business (New York: Bantam Books, 1966 ) ; Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers­ Here and Now/ ( New York : Bantam Books, 1 9 67 ) . 64. John Fuller, The Interrupted Journey (New York: Dial , Press, 1966 ) . t 65. Jim and Coral Lorenzen, Flying Saucers: The Startling Ev- ' : idence of the Invasion from Outer Space (New York : Signet 1 Books, 1 966) ; Jim and COral Lorenzen, UFOs Over the A mericas · (New York : Signet Books, 1 96 8 ) ; Lorenzen, Flying Saucer Occu­ pants (New York : Signet, 1968 ) ; Lorenzen, UFO's: The Whole Story (New York : Signet Books, 1 9 69 ) . 66. Jacques Vallee, Anatomy of a Phenomenon ( Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1965 ) ; Jacques and J anine Vallee, Challenge to 1 Science: The UFO Enigma ( Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 9 66 ) . c

, '


299

Notes 9 The Condon Committee and Its Aftennatb

1. David Saunders and R. Roger Harkins, UFOs? Yes! ( New York : Signet, 1 9 68 ) , pp.67-74; I obtained much of the informa­ tion on the internal methodology and disputes from this book. Ed­ ward U. Condon, project director, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects ( New York : Bantam edition, 1 9 69 ) , p. 1 5, to which I will hereafter refer as Condon Report; see also Saunders and Harkins, p.50. 2. Saunders and Harkins, pp.67-69, 1 3 5. See also Mary Lou Armstrong's letter of resignation in J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1972 ) , p.245. 3. Saunders and Harkins, pp. 1 1 5-17, 1 1 9 ; letter from Edward U. Condon to Donald E. Keyhoe, 2 February 1 967 (in the files of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Kensington, Maryland, to which I will hereafter refer as NI­ CAP ) . 4 . 1967 Congress of Scientific Uf ologists (New York: privately printed, 1 967 ) , p . l 4. 5. Saunders and Harkins, pp.78-80, 1 3 2-3 3 . 6. Saunders and Harkins, p. 1 4 1 . 7. Ibid. 8. Saunders and Harkins, pp.8 1-1 08, 1 3 6-3 7. 9. Memorandum from Robert J . Low to E. James Archer and Thurston E. Manning, "Some Thoughts on the UFO Project," 9 August 1 966, typed copy (NICAP, and in the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona, to which I hereafter refer as APRO ) ; also contained in Saunders and Har­ kins, pp.242-44. 1 0 . Saunders and Harkins, p . 1 3 0. 1 1 . Letter from James E. McDonald to Robert J. Low, 3 1 Jan­ uary 1968, contained in Smmders and Harkins, pp.244-52. Saun­ ders and Harkins, pp. 1 8 8-95; see also Den ver Rocky Mountain News, 10 February 1 9 6 8, p.3 1 . Letter from Mary Lou Armstrong to Edward U. Condon, 24 February 1 968, contained in Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp.243-45, see also Denver Post 29 Febru­ ary 1 968, p.6 1 . 1 2. Saunders and Harkins, passim and p.2 1 . 1 3 . John Fuller, ''Flying Saucer Fiasco," Look 1 4 May, 1 968, ! p.63 ; Denver Post, 3 0 April 1968, p . 1 5 . 14. Fuller, "Flying Saucer Fiasco," Look, 14 May 1968, p.63 . . 15. "Libel Suit May Develop from UFO Hassle," Scientific J Research, 1 3 May 1968, p. l l ; Edward U. Condon, letter to Scientific Research, 27 May 1968, p . 5 ; "UFO Study Credibility loud?," Industrial Research, June 1968, p.27 ; David J. Shea, ''The UFO Phenomenon : A Study in Public Relations" (Master's thesis, University of D enver, 1972) , p.39. ,

·

·

,


300

Notes

1 6. Daniel S. Greenberg, letter to Science, 25 October 1968, pp.4 1 0-1 1 . 1 7. Lewis M . Branscomb, letter to Science, 27 September 1 968, p.1 297. See Also Philip M. Boffey, ''UFO Project: Trouble on the Ground," Science, 26 July 1 968, pp.339-42. Denver Post, 2 May 1 9 68, p. 1 8 .

1 8. U.S., Congressional Record, 90th Cong., 2 d sess., 3 0 April 1 9 6 8 , val. 1 14, part 9, p. l l 0-43 ; Wall Street Journal, 3 M ay 1 9 68, p . 1 0 ; Denver Post, 2 May 1 9 68, p.4. 19. U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and As足 tronautics, Hearings, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, 90th Cong., 2d sess., 29 July 1 9 68, p.205; I h ere after refer to this as Hearings. The transcript of the hearings is included without material submitted for the record in John Fuller, A liens In The Skies (New York : Berkeley Medalli on, 1 9 69 ) . Hearings, p.2. 20. Hearings, pp.4, 1 4. 2 1 . Hearings, p.5. 22. Hearings, pp. 1 4- 1 5 . 23. Hearings, pp. 1 8- 1 9 , 2 1 , 26, 3 0. 24. Hearings, pp.8 6-98. 25. Hearings, pp. 1 06, 1 07. 26. Heairngs, pp. l l 3-2 1 . 27. Hearings, p. 1 3 1 . 28. Hearings, pp. 1 3 5 , 1 37. 29. Hearings, pp. 1 99-205, 2 1 4-24, 2 3 8, 208-9. 30. See The A .P.R.O. Bulletin from 1 9 6 8 to present for list of scientists connecte d with the organization. 3 1 . New York Times, 17 January 1968, p . 1 4. 3 2 . "Review uf the University of Colorado Report on Uniden足 tified Flying Objects by a Panel of the National Academy of Sciences" (National Academy of Sciences, 1 9 6 9 ) , pp. 1-6. (Mime足 ographed; NICAP and in the Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, to which I hereafter refer as MAFB ) . Letter from Frederick Sietz to Alexander H. Flax. 8

January 1 9 69 ( MAFB & NICAP ) . 3 3 . Condon Report, p.viii. 34. Condon Report, pp.x, xi. 3 5 . Condon Report, p.9. 3 6 . Condon Report, pp.24 5-80. 3 7 . Condon Report, pp. 1 64, 256, 1 43 , 1 7 1 . 3 8 . Condon Report, pp.280-3 69, 396-480, 407. 39. Condon Report, pp. 1 ,5 . 40. Condon Report, pp.2 5, 2 8 , 29, 3 0-3 1 . 4 1 . Condon Report, p . 1 4 . 4 2 . Condon Report, pp.6-7. 43 . Philip Boffey, ''UFO Study : Condon Group Finds No Evi足 dence of Visits from Outer Space," Science, 17 January 1 9 69, pp.260-62 ; New York Times, 1 1 January 1 9 69, p.30. 44. "The Truth About the Condon Report," UFO Investigator


301

Notes

(Special Edition) , J anuary 1 9 69, pp. l -2; UFO Investigator, Feb· ruary-March 1969, p.2. 45. The A . PR. O . Bulletin, January-February 1969, pp. l, 5. 46. Cincinnati Enq uirer, 13 January 1 9 69, p.1 3 ; Cleveland Press, 10 J anu ary 1 9 69, p.B3 . 47. UFO Investigator, February-March 1 9 69, p.5. See also Wil­ mington (Delaware) Morning News, 13 February 1 969, p.19; Daily Wildcat (University of Arizona) , 3 February 1969, p.6A. 48. J. Allen Hynek, ''The Condo n Report and UFO s ," Bulletin of the A tomic Scien tists, Apri1 1 969, pp.39-42. 49. Hynek, Bulletin of the A tomic Scientists, pp.3 9-42. 50. Hynek, Bulletin of the A tomic Scien tists, pp.39-42. See also

Condon Report, p.140. 5 1 . Robert M. L. Baker, ''The UFO Report: Condon Study Falls Short," Scientific Research 1 4 April 1 969, p.4 1 . 52. Frederick J. Hooven, "UFOs and th e Evidence," Saturday R ev ie w, 29 March 1969, pp. 1 6-17, 62. 53. New York Times, 27 January 1 9 69, p.3 2 ; Hudson Hoag­ land, "Beings From Outer Space-Corporeal and Spiritual," Science, 1 4 February 1969, p.7; Hong Ye e Chiu, Review of Con­ don committee report, Icarus, November 1 9 69, pp.447-50. 54. U.S., Congressional Record, 9 1 st Co ng . , 1 st sess., 1969, vol. 1 1 5, part 1, pp. 3 7 3-74 ; Tucson Daily Citizen, 13 January 1 969 (NICAP ) . 55. New York Times, 8 January 1 969, pp. l and 2, 9 January 1 969, p.3 6, 10 J anuary 1969, pp.32 and 46, 1 1 January 1969, p.3 0, 1 2 January 1 969, Sec. IV, p.6; New York Times, 10 January 1969, p.46, and 1 2 January 1 969, Sec. IV, p.6; Wall Street Jour­ nal, 1 6 January 1 969, p . 1 8 . 5 6 . Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, 1 0 January 1969, p.6A; Los A nge les Herald-Examiner, 19 January 1 969, p.C-2. 57. Buffalo Evening News, 1 1 January 1 9 69 (NICAP ) ; Knoxville Jo urna l, 1 1 January 1 9 69 (NICAP ) ; Ch a ttanooga Post, 14 January 1 969 (NICAP ) ; Fort Smith (Arkansas} Times Record, 30 January 1 969, p.2-B; Berkeley Daily Gazette, 1 3 J anu­ ary 1 969 and 1 4 January 1969 (NICAP ) . 58. Boffey, Science, 1 7 January 1 9 69, pp.260-62 ; Alden Arma­ gnac, Co ndon Report on UFOs: Should You B el ieve It?," Popular Science, April 1 9 69, pp.72-76; "Flying Saucers, Not Real But-," U.S. News and World Report, 20 January 1 9 69, p.6; Sho otin g Down the UFOs : Condon Report," Newsweek, 20 January 1969, p.54. 59. Lo st Cause : Condo n Report," Nation, 27 January 1 969, p. I OO; Sau ce rs End," Time, 17 January 1969, pp.44-45. 60. Edward U. Co ndon "UFOs I Have Loved and Lost," ad dres s to the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 26 April 1 9 69 (typed transcript at NICAP ) . This address was slightly revised and printed under the same title in the B ulle tin of A tomic Scientists, December 1 9 69, pp.6-8. ,

-

"

"

"

"

,


3 02

Notes

6 1 . U.S. Air Force, "Project Blue Book," 1 9 67, p . l (MAFB, NICAP, APRO ) ; "Project Blue Book," 1 9 6 8 ( MAFB, NICAP, APRO ) . See also "Project Blue Book," 1966 (MAFB, NICAP, APRO ) ; and U.S. Air Force Press Release, ''Total UFO Sightings 1 947-1 969," n.d. (MAFB, NICAP, APRO ) . 62. William F. Marley Transcript of Briefing to General Wil­ liam C. Garland, 7 July 1 967, pp. 1 8-19 (MAFB ) ; see also Ray­ mond Sleeper to William Garland, 28 July 1 967 (MAFB ) . Wil­ liam C. Garland to Raymond Sleeper, 2 August 1967 (MAFB ) . 6 3 . Letter from Raymond Sleeper to J . All e n Hynek, 4 September 1 9 68, contained in Hynek, The UFO Exp erien ce, p. 1 67. 64. Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp.25 1-70. 65. Shea, p.48. 66. U.S. Air Force, News Release, "Air Force to Terminate Project 'Blue Book," No. 1 077-69, 17 December . 1 969 (NICAP & APRO ) . 67. Tu cson Daily Star, 1 9 December 1 9 69, p. 1 2 (NICAP ) ; New York Times, 1 8 December 1 9 69, p.41, and 1 9 December 1 969, p.54. 68. Interviews with Stuart Nixon, April 1 972 and May 1 974. 69. Letter from Stuart Nixon to author, 29 May 1 974; inter­ view with Richard Greenwell, April 1 972. 70. Letter from Carl Sagan to James E. Mci:><>nald, 18 Septem­ ber 1968 (personal files ) ; letter from McDonald to Richard Hall, 1 6 October 1 9 6 8 (personal files ) . 7 1 . Letter from Edward U . Condon to Walter O rr Roberts, 5 September 1 969 (personal files ) ; letter from Thornton Page to J. Allen Hynek, 23 September 1 9 69 (from Hynek's files ) ; Birming­ ham Post-Herald, 29 September 1 969. 72. See Carl Sagan and Thornton Page, UFOs: A Scien tific Debate ( Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1 973 ) . 73. See The A .P.R.O. Bulletin, November-December 1 97 1 , for information on the Tucson symposium. Also see Coral Lorenzen, ed., Proceedings of the Eastern UFO Symposium, 23 January 1 97 1 , Baltimore, Maryland (Tucson, Ariz. : APRO, 1 9 7 1 ) . 74. "UFO, An Appraisal of the Problem," Astronautics and A e ronautics, November 1 970, pp.49-5 1 : "UFO Encounter I," As­ tron au tics and Aeronautics 9 (July 1 97 1 ) : 66-70; "UFO Encoun­ ter ll," A stronau tics and Aeronautics 9 (September 1 97 1 ) : 60-64; "UFOs Probably Exist," Industrial Research, April 1971, p.75. 75. J. Allen Hynek, "Commentary on the AAAS Symposium," Flying Saucer Review 1 6 (March-April 1 970 ) : 5; Donald I. War­ ren, "Status Inconsistency Theory and Flying Saucer Sightings," Science, 6 November 1 970, pp.599-604. 76. U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Appropriations, Hearings, Civil Supersonic A ircraft Development (SST), 92d Cong., 1st sess., 1 -4 March 1 9 7 1 , pp.3 3 4, 3 3 6, 3 40-4 1 . See also New York Times, 3 March 1 9 7 1 , p.87. 77. SST Hea rin gs, pp.587, 592.

t

m


Notes

303

78. George Gaylord S imp s on 's remarks in Carl Sagan, ed.,

Communication with

Extraterrestrial Intelligence

(Cambridge,

Mass . : The M.I.T. Press, 1973 ) pp.3 63-64; Shea, Append ix C, p . 1 57 ; Washington Post, 13 July 1 972, p .A3 5 . 79. Bruce C. Murray, "Reopening the Question," Science, 28 Augus t 1 972, pp.688-89. 80. Shea, Appendix C, pp. 1 50-5 1 , 1 57. 1 0 1973: Echoes of the Past

1. For more analyses of the 1 973-74 wave, see : Eileen Buckle, "Major 'Flap' in the United States," Flying Saucer Review (Lon足 don ) 19 ( November-December 1973 ) : 2-5; George D. Fawcett, " 1 973-Big for UFOs," Skylook, February 1 974, pp . 1 0-l l ; Ted Phillips " 1 4 Ring Reports in 1973 Landings," Skylook, Ma rch 1 974, pp. 1 6-1 7 ; Jacques Vallee, "The UFO Wave of 1973," Flying Saucer Review (London) 1 9 (November-December 1973 ) : 1 5 ; UFO Investigator, September 1 9 7 3 ; and The A .P.R.O. Bulletin, November-December 1973. 2. Culpeper (Virginia) Star-Exponent, 29 December 1973. Newspaper citations without page numbers are from cl ipping serv足 ice s and personal files. 3. Springfield (Illinois ) Register, 1 7 October 1973. 4. Lima (Ohio ) News, 1 7 October 1973 . S. Irving (Texas ) News, 28 October 1 9 7 3 . 6. Jackson ( Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger, 1 8 October 1 973. 7. Palmyra (Missouri) Spectator, 1 0 October 1 9 7 3 . 8. Fayetteville (Arkansas ) Northwest Arkansas Times, 18 March 1 974; York (Pennsylvania) Recorder, 1 6 October 1973 ; Hackensack (New Jersey) Record, 10 October 1 97 3 . 9. The Madison Press (London, Ohio ) , 1 7 October 1 973 . 10. Los Angeles Times, 14 November 1973 . 1 1 . St. Joseph (Missouri) Gazette, 9 October 1 97 3 . 1 2. Goldsboro (North Carolina) News Argus, 28 October 1973. 1 3 . Today's Post (King of Prussia, Pennsylvania) , 3 December 1973 . 14. Baton Rouge State Times, 1 2 October 1 9 7 3 . 1 5 . Madisonville (Kentucky) Messenger, 1 7 October 1973 ; Cairo (lllinois ) Evening Citizen, 17 October 1 9 7 3 . 16. Wisconsin State Journal ( Madison ) , 1 6 November 1 973, sec. 2, p.8. 1 7 . McComb (Mississippi) Enterprise Journal, 1 6 October 1973; Pierce Co. (Nebraska) Leader, 22 November 1 97 3 ; Wis足 .. consin State Journal (Madison) , 8 December 1 973 , p.6. 1 8 . Oklahoma City Times, 1 8 February 1 974. i. 19. So. lllinoisian ( Carbondale) , 9 October 1973. 1 20. Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian, 4 October 1 973. For follow-up reports, se e : Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian, 9


3 04

Notes

October 1973 ; and Wisconsin State Journal (Madison ) , 6 O ctober 1 973 , p.3. 21. Personal files. 22. Tulsa World, 19 October 1 973; West Union (Ohio) People's Defender, 1 8 October 1 973. 23. West Point (M i ss is sippi ) Times-Leader, 17 October 1 973. 24. Columbus (Ohio ) Evening Dispatch, 14 October 1 973. 25. Lawrenceburg (Tennessee) Democrat-Union, 18 October 1973. 26. Simi Valley (California) Enterprise Sun and News, 1 2 Oc­ tober 1 97 3 . For the complete polic e report on this si gh tin g, see Skylook, December 1 973, p.4. 27. The A.P.R.O. Bulletin, January-February 1 974, pp.S-7. 28. The press has covered this sighting innumerable times. Two of the best accounts are : Ralph Blum with Judy Blum, Beyond Earth: Man's Contact with UFOs (New York : Bantam Books, 1 974) ; and Joe Es zterha s , "Claw Men From The Outer Space," Rolling Stone, 17 January 1 974, pp.27+. 29. Interview with J. Allen Hynek, June 1 974. 30. Milwaukee Journal, 28 December 1973, pp. l , 3 of green sheet. 3 1 . Skylook, March 1 974, pp. 6-7, and April 1 974, pp.6-7. 32. Interview with Stuart Nixon, May 1 974; UFO Investigator, May 1 974, p. 1 . 3 3 . Interview with J im and Coral Lorenzen, Janu ary 1 974. 34. For exam pl es of psychologists', psychiatrists', and social scientists' explanations, see : San Francisco Examiner, 19 October 1 973 ; Louisville Times, 1 9 October 1 973 ; Buffalo (New York) Courier-Express, 1 9 October 1 97 3 ; anfil Milwaukee Journal, 21 October 1 973 . 3 5. For examples of astronomers' and other scientists' explana­ tions, see : Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) , 1 8 October 1 973, p.9, and 26 April 1 973, sec. 5, p.4 ; Glendale (Califo rni a) News, 1 8 October 1973 ; A ustin (Texas) Statesman, 1 8 October 1 973; Pottstown (Pennsylvania) Mercury, 1 9 October 1 973 ; and . Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 23 March 1 974. 3 6 . Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian, 8 February 1 974 ; Valley News & Green Sheet (Van Nuys, California) , 24 March 1 974; and Trentonian (Trenton, New Jersey ) , 19 October 1 973. 37. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison ) , 23 October 1 973, p. 1 2 ; . Pensacola ( Florida) News, 19 October 1973. 3 8 . For e x ample s of scie ntist s impartial to the UFO phenomenon, see : Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) , 23 October 1 973, p. 1 2; Bellefontaine ( Ohio ) Examiner, 19 October 1973 ; New Or­ leans States-Item, 17 October 1 973 ; Philadelphia Daily News, 1 8 ' October 1 973 ; Newport Beach (California) Daily Pilot, 1 8 Octo­ ber 1 973. 39. For examples of editorials criticizing the validity of the UFO phenomenon, see : Springfield (Massachusetts ) Union, 1 9 ·


Notes

305

October 1 97 3 ; Pensacola ( F lori da ) Journal, 18 October 1 9 7 3 ; Charlotte (North C aro l in a ) Observer, 1 1 October 1 97 3 ; Trentonian (Trenton, New Jersey) , 1 9 October 1 973 ; and Lyons (Kansas) Daily News, 1 8 October 1 973. 40. Washington, D.C., Star-News, 1 9 October 1 9 7 3 . Se e also New Orleans States-Item, 1 8 October 1 973; and Oregon State Ba足 rometer ( Corvallis) , 1 8 October 1 973. 41. Santa Monica (California) Evening Outlook, 25 March 1 974; Memphis Commercial Appeal, 1 6 October 1 97 3 ; San Fran足 cisco Examiner, 28 December 1 973, and 4 January 1 974; New York Times, 21 October 1973, p.65. 42. Chicago Tribune, 30 October 1 973, p . 1 2 ; Norfolk (Virginia) Pilot, 1 8 October 1 973 . 43. Madison (Wisconsin ) Capital Times, 27 October 1 973. 44. Trentonian (Trenton, New Jersey ) , 19 October 1973. 45. Joe Eszterhas, "Claw Men From Th e Outer Space," Rolling Stone, 17 January 1 9 '7 4, pp.27 +. 46. ''UFO : S tardus t and Moonshine," Newsweek, 29 October 1 973, p.3 1 ; "Are Flying Saucers Real? Latest on an Old Mystery," U.S. News and World Report, 5 November 1973, pp.75-76. 47. Ralp h Blum, "UFOs : Those Heavenly Bodies are Alive and Well " Cosmopolitan, 1 February 1 974, pp. 1 76+. 48. Donald E. Ke yhoe, A liens From Spa ce (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 973 ) , passim. 49. Keyhoe, pp. 107, 123, 239. 50. Aime Michel, The Truth A bout Flying Saucers (New York : Pyramid Books, 1 974 ) ; George Adamski, Behind the Fly足 ing Saucer Mystery (New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1974 ) ; Howard Menger, From Outer Space ( New York: Pyramid Books, 1 9 74 ) . 5 1 . Erich von D an iken, Chariots of the Gods? (New York: Bantam Books, 1 9 7 1 ) . 52. Erich von Daniken, Gods From Outer Space (New York : Bantam B oo ks 1 972) ; Erich von Dliniken, The Gold of the Gods (New York : Bantam Books, 1 973 ) . 53. John Wallace Sp enc er, Limbo of the Lost (New York: Bantam Books, 1973 ) . 54. Cu lv er City ( Califo rnia ) Evening Star News, 22 March 1 974; Glendale (California) News-Press, 25 June 1 974, p.8-A. 55. "Interview: Ray Stanford," Psychic, April 1 974, pp.6-1 0, 3 6-38. 56. Interview with J. Allen Hynek, June 1 974. 57. Interviews with Allan Sandler, February, March, April 1974. 58. New York Times, 29 November 1 973, p.4 1 . ,

,


A

Note on Sources

There is no central depository for documents and other material relating either to the UFO controversy or to UFO sight­ ings. Researchers must cull what they can from several public and private agencies. Some individuals, aware of the problem of sources, have begun collecting whatever documents they can find for their own files. I consulted three of the best private collections -those of J. Allen Hynek, Richard Greenwell, and the late James McDonald. McDonald's collection is without a doubt the best, containing reports of his own excellent investigations of sightings, copies of hundreds of Air Force reports, and an enormous amount of correspondence between him and other scientists and UFO re­ searchers. J. Allen Hynek's collection includes cases, correspon­ dence, and documents, as well as a large volume of newspaper sighting reports and articles. Richard Greenwell's collection of books, pamphlets, and privately printed material is one of the most complete in the country. For the researcher interested in the controversy, though, the Air Force, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization are the best places to obtain material. The Air Force Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Mont­ gomery, Alabama, contain the bulk of Projects Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book documents. The voluminous collection of sighting re­ ports includes a wealth of information about UFO report investi­ gation and identification procedures. I found most of the major documents, reports, and studies in the unsystematically arranged project files. In addition, the project files contain many unpub­ lished letters, memoranda, and other documents about the Air Force's struggle with NICAP, its attempts to avert congressional hearings, and its efforts to transfer the UFO program. While providing much information about the Air Force's UFO program and policies, the project files are still disappointingly incomplete. Strongest on the 1 953-6 1 period, the files have few documents for the years before or after. Moreover, these potentially significant missing documents are not available from any other known source. In the files of NICAP, which moved from Washington, D.C., !o Kensington, Maryland, in 1973, I found essential supplemental mformation about NICAP's fight for congressional investigations and its struggle with the Air Force. NICAP files contain letters from the Air Force to congressmen and private citizens in addi-

307


308

A Note on Sources

tion to the organization's own correspondence. NICAP's collection also includes some of Donald E. Keyhoe's private correspon­ dence with AI Chop, Edward Ruppelt, and other figures promi­ nent in the early years o f the controversy. Although not all of Keyhoe's correspondence is at NICAP, enough is there to provide invaluable supplementary material. The organization also has many Air Force documents, reports, press releases, and some of­ fice files, most of which are duplicates of the material at the Air Force Archives. NICAP's newspaper file includes many articles that it has collected from clipping services since 1 957. The or­ ganization's book collection contains its own holdings as well as that of the defunct Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York, which makes the book collection one of the most complete on UFOs in the country, with many rare and out-of-print contactee books. Finally, the NICAP's large sighting files do not signifi­ cantly overlap those of the Air Force and the organization's in­ vestigations are usually more complete than the Air Force's. APRO, located in Tucson, Arizona, offered me access to the largest collection of UFO club and contactee periodicals in the country. The Coral Lorenzen-Donald Keyhoe correspondence at APRO is invaluable for an understanding of their early theories and the beginnings of NICAP. APRO also has a collection of Air Force press releases and reports and some Air Force correspon­ dence with APRO members and private citizens. Most of the Air Force documents are duplicates of material in the Air Force Ar­ chives. APRO's sighting files supplement those at NICAP and the Air Force Archives and its investigation work is generally very good. The Library of Congress has a limited but valuable collection of books and periodicals. It has some important contactee and UFO club literature unavilable elsewhere. The library's unspecial­ ized motion picture collection includes a few movies with flying saucer themes and several interesting television films about UFOs, some dating back to the mid-1 950s. I found the facilities of the Wisconsin State Historical Society in Madison useful for researching newspaper accounts of the 1 896-97 and recent sightings. The most helpful newspapers for the 1 896-97 sightings were the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Times­

Herald, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dallas Morning News, Houston Post, Detroit Free Press, Sacramento Daily Record-Union, and Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune. For recent sightings and the con­ troversy over them, I found the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and other major city newspapers indispensable.

Also, local newspapers in or near a sighting area contained im­ portant UFO reports. In addition, I found that newspaper clipping . services often obtained sighting reports that large city newspapers or the wire services did not carry.


Selected Bibliography Personal Interviews and Correspondence

Alvarez, Luis. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, University of Cal· ifornia, Berkeley, California. Letter, 9 February 1972. Chop, Albert M. Downey, California. Interview, January 1 974. Friend, Lieutenant Colonel (ret. ) Robert. Irvine, California. In­ terview, January 1 974. Goudsmit, Samuel. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, Long Island, New York. Letter, 9 February 1 972. Greenwell, Richard. Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. Continuous correspondence from August 1 9 7 1 · t o June 1973 . Hynek, J. Allen. Northwestern University, Evanston, Dlinois: In­ terviews, February 1 97 1 , February 1 972, September 1 972, April 1 973, and continuous through July 1 974. Keyhoe, Donald E. Luray, Virginia. Interview, April 1 972. Lorenzen, James and Coral. Aerial Phenomena Research Organi­ zation, Tucson, Arizona. Interviews, June 1 97 1 , January 1 974. Nixon, Stuart. National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phe­ nomena, Kensington, Maryland (formerly in Washington, D.C. ) . Interview and correspondence, April 1 973, May 1 974. Page, Thornton. Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. Letter, 7 February 1 972. Ruppelt, Mrs. Edward J. Long Beach, California. Interview, Janu­ ary 1 974. Shea, Major David J. Dayton, Ohio. Interview, May 1 974. Reports and Public Documents

National Academy of Sciences. Panel. "Review of the University of Colorado Report on Unidentified Flying Objects." Washing­ ton, D.C., 1 969. (In the Air Force Archives, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. ) U.S. Air Force. Projects Grudge and Bluebook Reports 1-12. Washington, D.C. : National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1 968. U.S. Air Force. Air Materiel Command. "Unidentified Aerial Ob­ jects : Project 'Sign'." No. F-TR-2274-IA. February 1 949. Mont­ gomery, Alabama, Maxwell Air Force Base, Air Force Ar­ chives. (Mimeographed.) ---. "Unidenitfied Flying Objects : Project 'Grudge'." No. 1 02AC 49/ 1 5- 1 00. August 1 949. Montgomery, Alabama, Maxwell Air Force Base, Air Force Archives. (Mimeographed. ) -. "Project Twinkle Final Report." 27 November 1 9 5 1 . Mont-

309


310

Selected Bibliography

gomery, Alabama. Maxwell Air Force Base, Air Force Archives. (Mimeographed. ) ---. Air Technical Intelligence Center. "Special Report No. 14." 1 955. Montgomery, Alabama. Maxwell Air Force Base, Air Force Archives. ( Mimeographed. ) ---. Scientific Advisory Board. A d Hoc [O'Brien] Committee to Review Project Blue Book. "Special Report." Washington, D.C., 1 9 66. (Mimeographed. ) U.S. Congress. House. Representative Roush speaking against the Condon Committee's methods. 90th Cong., 2d sess., 30 April 1 9 68. Congressional Record, vol. 1 14, p. 1 1 043 . -. House. Representative Ryan speaking against the Condon Committee's findings. 9 1 st Cong., 1st sess., 9 January 1 9 69. Congressional Record, vol. 1 1 5, pp.3 73-74. -. House. Committee on Appropriations. Civil Supersonic

A ircraft Development (SST). Hearings before The Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives. 92d . Cong., 1 st sess.,

1-4 March 1 97 1 . House, Committee o n Armed Services. Unidentified Flying

-.

Objects. Hearings before the House Committee on Armed Ser­ vices, House of Representatives. 89th Cong., 2d sess., 5 April 1 966.

---.

House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Foreign Assistance Act oJ 1966. Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives. 89th Cong . , 2d sess., 3 0 March 1966. -. Hoose. Committee on Science and Astronautics. Sympo­ sium on Unidentified Flying Objects. Hearings before the Com­ mittee on Science and Astronautics, House of Representatives. 90th Cong., 2d sess., 29 July 1 968.

Books Adamski, George. Behind the Flying Saucer Mystery. New York: Paperback Library, 1 967. ( Original title: Flying Saucers Fare­ well. New York : Abelard-Schuman, 19 6 1 . ) ---. inside the Flying Saucers. New York: Paperback. Library, 1 9 67 . (Original title : Inside the Spaceships. New York: Abe­ lard-Schuman, 1 955. ) Angelucci, Orfeo M. The Secret of the Saucers. Amherst, Wis. : Amherst Press, 1 955. Bailey, James 0. Pilgrims Through Space and Time. New York: . Argos, 1947. Baxter, John. Science Fiction in the Cinema. New York: A.S. Barnes, 1 9 70. Bethurum, Truman. A board a Flying Saucer. Los Angeles : De Vorss, 1 954. Bloecher, Ted. Report on the UFO Wave of 1 947. Washington, D.C. : By the Author, 1 967. (Available from California UFO Research Institute, P. 0. Box 9 4 1 , Lawndale, Calif. 90260 ) .


311

Selected Bibliography

Blum, Ralph with Blum, Judy. Beyond Earth: Man's Contact with UFOs. New York : Bantam Books, 1 974. Buckner, H . Taylor. "The Flying S au ce ri ans : An Open Door Cult." Sociology and Everyday L ife . Edited by Marcell Truzzi. Englewood Cli ffs , N .J . : P re nti ce -H all, 1 968. Clarke, Basil. The History of A irships. London : Herbert Jenkins,

1 9 60.

Condon, Edward U., project director. Scientific Study of Uniden­ tified Flying O b jec ts. New York : Bantam Books, 1 969. Daniels, George H. Science in A merican Society. New York: Knop f, 1 97 1 . Davidson, Leon, ed. Flying Saucers: A n Analysis of the A ir Force Project Blue Book Special R ep ort No. 14. Clarksburg, W.Va. : Saucerian Publications, 1 97 1 . Edwards, Frank. Flying Saucers-Here and Now! New York: Bantam B oo ks, 1 9 67. ---. Flying Saucers-Serious Business. N ew York : B antam

Books, 1 966. Ellwood, Robert S. Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern A merica. Englewood Cliffs , N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1 97 3 . Festinger, Leon. When Prophecy Fails. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1956. Flammonde, Paris. T h e A g e of Flying Saucers: Notes on a Pro­ jected History of Unidentified Flying Objects. N ew York : Haw­ thorn, 1 97 1 . Fry, Daniel . Th e White Sands Incident. Louisville, Ky. : B est Books, 1 966. Fuller, John. A liens in the Skies. New York : Berkeley Medallion, 1 9 69. . Incident at Exeter. New York: G. P. Putn am , 1 966. . The Interrupted Journey. New York : Dial Press, 1 9 66. Gallup, George H. The Gallup Poll: Public O pin ion 1935-1 972. 3 vols. New Yor k : Random House, 1 972. Gibb s Smith , Charles H. Aviation: A n Historical Survey. Lo n don : Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1 970. . A History of Flying. London : B. T. B atesford , 1 953. ---. The Invention of the Aeroplane. New York : Taplinger, 1 966. Gifford, D e nnis . Science Fiction Film. London : Dutton, 1 969. Godwin, John. Occult America. Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 972. Hall, Richard, ed. The UFO Evidence. Wa shin gto n, D . C. : Na­ tiona l Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1 9 64. Hood, Joseph. The Sto ry of A irsh ips . London : Arthur Barker, Ltd., 1968. Hynek, J. A l len . The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. Chi­ cago : H enry Regnery, 1 972. Johnson, DeWayne B. "Flying S aucers-Fact or Fiction?" Mas­ ter's thesis, University of C alifor nia at Los An geles 1 950. ---

---

-

­

---

,

·


312

Selected Bibliography

Jung, Carl G. Flying Saucers:

A Modern Myth of Things Seen In the Sky. Translated by R. F. C. Hull . New York: Harcourt,

Brace, 1 959; Signet, 1 969. Justi, Herman, ed. Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Nashville : Brandon Printing Co., 1 898. Keyhoe, Donald. A liens From Space. Garden City, N.Y. : Dou· bleday, 1 973. ---. The Flying Saucers Are Real. New York : Fawcett Publications, 1 950. ---. The Fly ing Saucer Conspiracy. New York: Holt, 1 955. ---. Flying Saucers From Outer Space. New York: Holt, 1 953. -. Flying Saucers: Top Secret. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1 9 60. Klass, Philip J. UFOs-Identified. New York: Random House, 1 968. Leslie, Desmond, and Adamski, George. Flying Saucers Have Landed. London : Werner Laurie, 1953. Lore, Gordon, and Deneault, Harold H. Mysteries of the Skies: UFOs in Pe rspective. Englewood Cliffs, N.J . : Prentice-Hall, 1 968. Lorenzen, Coral, ed. Proceedings of the Eastern UFO Sym­ posium , 23 January 1 9 7 1 , Baltimore, Maryland. Tucson, Ariz. : Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, 1 97 1 . Lorenzen, Coral an d J im . Flying Saucer Occupants. New York: Signet, 1 9 67. -. Flying Saucers: The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Ou ter Space. New York: Signet, 1 966. -. UFOs Over the A mericas. New .York: Signet, 1 968. --. UFOs: The Whole Story. New York : Signet, 1 969. McD on ald, James E. Uniden tified Flying Objects: Greatest Scien­ tific Problem of Our Times (address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 1 9 66 ) . Washington, D.C. : Pittsburgh Subcommittee of NICAP [National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena], 1 9 67. Menger, Howard. From Outer Space to You. Clarksburg , W.Va . : Saucerian Publications, 1 959. (Paperback edition title : From Outer Space. New Yo rk : Pyramid, 1 9 67. ) Menzel, Donald. Flying Sauc ers. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard Uni­ versity Press, 1 953 . Menzel, Donald , and Boyd, Lyle G. The World of Flying Saucers. Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 9 6 3 . Nebel, John. The Psychic World A round Us. New York: Haw­ thorn, 1 969; Signet, 1 970. ---. The Way Out World. En gl ewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice· Hall, 1 9 6 1 ; Lancer, 1 962. · 1967 Congress of Scientific Ufologists. New York: Privately Printed, 1 9 67. (Available at the Library of Congress.) Reeve, B ryant and H el en . Flying Saucer Pilgrimage. Amherst, Wis. : Amherst Press, 1 957.


Selected Bibliography

313

Ruppelt, Edward J . The Report o n Unidentified Flying Objects. Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1 9 5 6 . (In 1 959 Doubleday pub­ lished a revision of this book which included three additional chapters; however, the revision does not have the word revision on it and carries the 1 9 5 6 date. ) Sagan, Carl, and Page, Thornton, eds. UFOs: A Scientific De­ bate. Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1 973 . Sagan, Carl, and Shklovskii, I. S. Intelligent Life in the Universe. San Francisco : Holden-Day, 1 96 6 . Saunders, David R. , and Harkins, R. Roger. UFOs? Yes!: Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong. New York : Signet, 1 9 6 8 . Scamehorn, Howard. Balloons to Jets. Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 9 57.

Scully, Frank. Behind The Flying Saucers. New York: Henry Holt, 1 950. Shea, David J. "The UFO Phenomeno n : A Study in Public Rela­ tions." Master's thesis, University of Denver, 1 972. Strentz, Herbert. "A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1 947- 1 9 6 6 ." Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 1 970. Tacker, Lawrence J. Flying Saucers and the U.S. A ir Force. Princeton, NJ. : Van Nostrand, 1 9 60. Toland, John. Ships in the Sky. New York : Henry Holt Co., 1 957.

Vallee, Jacques. Anatomy of a Phenomenon. Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 9 65. . Challenge to Science: The UFO Enigma. Chicago : Henry Regnery, 1 966. Van Tassel, George. Th e Council of Seven Lights. Los Angeles : De Vorss, 1 9 5 8 . . I Rode A Flying Saucer. By the Author, 1 952. (Not avail­ able. ) , Williamson, George Hunt, and Bailey, Alfred C. The Saucers Speak. Los Angeles : New Age Publishing Co., 1 9 54. ---

---

Articles and Periodicals

'

·

AFSCA World Report. Edited by Gabriel Green. Los Angeles : Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America, 1 9 59-60. (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) "AIAA Committee Looks at the UFO Problem." Astronautics and A eronautics, December 1 9 68, p.2. The A .P.R.O. Bulletin. Edited by Coral Lorenzen. Tucson, Ariz. : Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, 1 9 53-74. "Are 'Flying Saucers' Real? Latest on an Old Mystery." U.S. News and World Report, 5 November 1 9 73, pp.7 5-7 6. Armagnac, Alden. "Condon Report on UFOs : Should You Be­ lieve It?" Popular Science, April 1 9 69, pp.72-76.


3 14

Selected Bibliography

Asiinov, Isaac. "UFO's, What I Think." 1 9 66, pp.44-47.

Science Digest, June

"Background." A stronautics and Aeronautics, November 1 970, p.S 1 . B aker, Robert M. L. ''The UFO Report : Condon Study Falls Short." Scientific Research, 1 4 April 1 969, p.4 1 . "Belated Explanation o n Flying Saucers (Balloons ) ." Time, 2 6 February 1 95 1 , p . 22. Black, Victor. "Flying Saucer Hoax." A merican Mercury, October 1952, pp. 6 1 -66. Blum, Ralph. "UFOs : Th o se Heavenly Bodies are Alive and Well." Cosmopolitan, February 1 9 74, pp. 1 7 6-78, 200-20 1 , 22 1 . Boffey, Philip M . "UFO Project: Trouble on the Ground." Science, 26 July 1968, pp.3 3 9-42. ---. "UFO Study : Condon Group Finds N o Evidence of Visits from Outer Space." Science 17 January 1969, pp.260-62. Branscomb, Lewis M. "Letter". Science, 27 September 1968, · p.1 297. Buckner, H. Taylor. "Flying Saucers are for People." Trans-Ac­ tion 3 (May-June 1966 ) : 1 0-1 3 . " � Dr. Condon See It Throu gh ?" Natio n, 3 1 October 1 966, p.43 6. Carson, Charles. ''Those Little Men From Venus : A Reply to R. Gelatt." Saturday Review of Literature, 2 1 O ctober 1 960, p.25. Catton, William R. "What Kind of People D oe s a Religious Cult Attract?" Sociology and Everyday Life. Edited by Marcell Truzzi. En glewoo d Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1968. Chiu, Hong-Yee. Review of Cond on Committee Report. Icarus, November 1 969, pp.442-47. Clark, Jerome. ''The Strange Case of the 1 897 Airship." Flying Saucer Review (London ) 1 2 (July-August 1 966) : 1 0- 1 7 . Clark, J ero me , and Farish, Lucius. ''The 1 897 S to ry-1. " Flying Saucer Review ( London ) 14 (September-October 1968 ) : 1 3-16. -. ''The 1 897 St ory-IT . " Flying Saucer Review ( Lo ndo n ) 1 4 (November-December 1 9 68 ) : 6-8. ---. ''The 1 897 Story�ID." Flying Saucer Review {London) 15 (January-February 1 9 69 ) : 2 6-2 8 . Cohen, Daniel. "Review of Incident at Exeter." Science Digest, Oct ober 1966, pp.41-42. Condon, Edward U. "Letter." Scientific Research, 21 May 1 968, p. s. ---. ''UFOs I Have Loved and Lost : Ad aptation of an Ad­ dress-April 1 9 69." Bulletin of the A tomic Scientists 25 {December 1 9 69 ) : 6-8 . "Condon For Regent." Nation, 26 September 1 966, p.269. Considine, Bob. ''The Disgraceful Flying S auc er Hoax." Cosmopolitan, January 1 9 5 1 , pp. 3 3 , 1 00-102. Crum, Norman J. "Flying Saucers and Book S el ection. " Library

Journal 79 (October 1 954 ) : 1 7 1 9-25.

G-

t �


Selected Bibliography

315

CSI Newsletter. Edited by Lex Mebane. New York : Civilian Sau­ cer Intelligence of New York, 1 955-59. (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) Darrach, H. Bradford, and Ginna Robert. "Have We Visitors From SpaceT' Life, 7 April 1952, pp.80-82 + . Draper, Hal. "Mtemoon with the Space People." Harpers Maga­ zine, September 1960, pp. 3 7-40. Elliott, Lawrence. "Flying Saucers : Myth or Menace?" Coronet, 1 9 November 1952, pp.47-54. Eszterhas, Joe. "Claw Men From The Outer Space." Rolling Stone, 17 January 1 974, pp.27 +. "Fatuus Season : Ann Arbor and Hill sdale Sightings." Time, 1 April 1 9 66, p.25B. Flick, David. "Tripe for the Public." Library Journal 80 (Febru­ ary 1 955 ) : 202. The Flying Saucer Review. Edited by Roger Gribble. Seattle, Washington : Space Observers League, 1 955-56. (At the Library of Congress. ) "Flying Saucers Again." Newsweek, 1 7 April 1 950, p.29. "Flying Saucers, Not Real But-." U.S. News and World Report, 20 January 1 9 69, p.6. "Flying Saucers-The Real Story: U.S. Built First O ne in 1942." U.S. News and World Report, 7 April 1 950, pp. 1 3-1 5. "Flying Saucers : The Somethings." Time, 1 4 July 1 947, p. 1 8 . Fuller, John. " A Communication Concerning UFOs." Saturday Review, 4 February 1967, pp.70-73. ---. ''Flying Saucer Fiasco." Look, 1 4 May 1968 , pp.58-63. ---. "Incident at Exeter." Look, 22 February 1 966, pp.3 6 + . ---. ''Tradewinds: Exeter People Give Accounts of Observations." Saturday Review, 22 January 1966, p.14. ---. "Tradewinds : Report of an Unidentified Flying Object in Exeter, N.H." Saturday Review, 2 October 1 9 65, p . 1 0 . ---. ''Tradewinds : U.S. Air Force's Reactions to Recent Sight­ ings." Saturday Review, 1 6 Apri1 1 966, pp. 1 0, 12, 77. Gelatt, Roland. "Flying Saucer Hoax." Saturday Review of Litera­ ture, 6 December 1 952, p.3 1 . ---. "In A Saucer From Venus." Review of Behind the Flying Saucers, by Frank Scully. Saturday Review of Literature, 23 Sep­ tember 1 950, pp.20-2 1 , 3 6 . Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. "Historical Note." Flying Saucer Review , (London) 1 2 (July-August 1 9 66 ) : 1 7. Ginn a, Robert E. "Saucer Reactions." Life, 9 June 1 952, pp.20, 23-24, 26 . "Great Balls of Fire! Philip Klass Theory." Newsweek, 5 September 1 9 66, p.78. Greenberg, Daniel S. "Letter." Science, 25 October 1968, pp.4 10- l l , Hall, Richard. "Letter." Aviation ,Week, 1 0 October 1 9 6 6 , p. 1 3 0. Handlin, Oscar. "Reader's Choice." Review of Incident at Exeter, by John G. Fuller. A tlantic Monthly, August 1 9 66, pp. 1 1 6-17.


316

Selected Bibliography

Hanlon, Donald. "The Airship in Fact and F ictio n." Flying Saucer Review (London ) 1 6 ( July-August 1970 ) : 20-2 1 . "Heavenly Bogeys." Time, Septemb er 1 966, pp.8 1-82. Hoaglund, Hudson. "Beings From Outer Sp ace-Corporeal and

Spiritual." Science, 14 February 1 969, p.7.

Hooven, Frederick J. "UFOs and the Evidence : Condon Report",

Saturday Review, 29 March 1 969, pp. 1 6-17, 62.

Hynek, J. Al len . "Are Flying Saucers Real?" Saturday Evening

Post, 1 7 December 1 966, pp. 1 7-2 1 .

"Commentary on the AAAS Symposium." Flying Saucer Review (London ) 1 6 (March-April 1970 ) : 5. -. "Th e Condon Report and UFOs." Bulletin of th e A tomic Scientists 25 (Apri1 1 9 69 ) : 39-42. -. "The UFO Gap." Playboy, December 1967, pp. 1 43-46 + . ---. "UFOs Merit Scientific Study." Science, 2 1 October 1966, p.329. ---. "Unusual Aerial Phenom ena . " Journal of the Optical Soci­ ety of A merica 43 (April 1953 ) : 3 1 1-14. -. "White Paper on UFOs." Christian Science Monitor, 2 3 M ay 1967, p.9. Keyhoe, Donald E. "Flying Saucers Are Real" True Magazine, January 1950. Reprinted in The TRUE Report on Flying Sau­ cers. New York : Fawcett, 1 9 67, pp.6-7, 92-94. -. "Flying S aucers From Outer Space." Look, 20 O ctober 1953, pp. 1 1 4-20. Klass, Philip J. "Many UFOs Are Identified as P las mas." Avia­ tion Week, 3 October 1966, pp.54-55 + . -. "Plasma Theory May Explain Many UFOs." Aviation Week, 22 August 1966, pp.48-50 + . Knight, Charlotte. " Rep ort on Our Flying Saucer Balloons." Col­ lier's, 1 1 June 1 954, pp.50, 52-53, 56-51. Lear, John. ''The Disputed CIA Document on UFOs." Saturday Review, 3 September 1 966, pp.45-50. -. "Research in America: Dr. Condon's Study Outlined." Saturday Review, 3 December 1 966, pp.87-89. -. "Scientific Explanation for the UFOs?" Saturday Review, 1 October 1 9 66, pp.67-69. ---. "What Are the U ni dentified Aerial O bj ects?" Sa turday Re­ view, 6 August 1 9661 pp.4 1-42. ---. "UFOs and the Laws of Physics : Concerning Views of J. Allen Hynek and William M arkowitz," Saturday Review, 6 October 1 967, p.59. Ley, Willy. "More About Out There." Review o f Is Another Wo rld Watching?, by Geral d Heard. Saturday Review of Literature, 28 April 195 1 , pp.20-2 1 , 30. "Libel Suit May Develop from UFO Hassle." Scientific Research, 13 May 1 9 68, p. l l . -.

Liddel, Umer. "Phantasmagoria or Unusual Observations in the

.

1


. '

Selected Bibliography

317

Atmosphere." Journal of the Optical Society of A merica 43

(April 1 953 ) : 3 1 4-17. "Lost Cause: Condon Report." Nation, 27 January 1969, p. 1 00. McDonald, James E. Review of Condon Committee Report. Icarus, November 1 969, pp.447-50. McLaughlin, Commander R. B. "How Scientists Tracked Flying Saucers." True Magazine, March 1 9 50, pp.25-27, 9 6-99. "Management Newsletter." Electrical World, 1 5 April 1 968,

pp.57-60.

' Mandel, Siegfried. ''The Great Saucer Hunt." Saturday Review, 6 August 1955, pp.28-29. Margolis, Howard. "UFO Phenomenon." Bulletin of the A tomic Scientists 23 (June 1 9 67 ) : 40-42. 1 Markowitz, William. ''The Physics and Metaphysics of Uniden­ tified Flying Objects." Science, 15 September 1967, pp. 1274-79. Masquellette, Frank. "Physical Evidence of Great Airships of 1 8 97." Houston Post, 13 June 1 966, p.8. Mauer, Edgar F. "Of Spots Before Their Eyes." Science, 19 De­ cember 1 952, p.693 . Menzel, Donald H. "Abstract." Journal of the Optical Society of America 42 (November 1952) : 879. ---. "The Truth About Flying Saucers." Look, 17 June 1 952,

pp.35-39.

"More About Flying Saucers." Review of Behind the Flying Sau­ cers, by Frank Scully. Science News Letter, 1 6 September 1 950,

p. 1 8 1 . Morrison, Chester. "Mirage o r Not, Radar Sees Those Saucers Too." Look, 9 September 1952, pp.98-99. Moseley, James. "Giant Rock." Saucers, Space and Science 60 ( 1 97 1 ) : 7-9 (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) Moslcin, J. Robert. "Hunt for the Flying Saucers." Look, 1 July

1 952, pp.37-4 1 . Murray, Bruce. "Reopening the Question." Review o f The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, by J. Allen Hynek. Science, 28 August 1972, pp.688-89. Nelson, Buck. ''I Visited Mars, Venus and the Moon!" Search, no. 1 8 (December 1956 ) : 6-20. (In the files of the Aerial Phenom­ ena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) Nexus. Edited by James Moseley. Fort Lee, NJ. : James Moseley, 1 955. (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organi­ zation, Tucson, Arizona. ) "No Visitors From Space." Science News Letter, 30 August 1 952,

p.143.

"Notes and Comment: Saucer Flap." The New Yorker, 9 April

1966, pp.32-34.

"Out of the Blue Believers : Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York." The New Yorker, 1 8 April 1 959, pp.3 6-37. "Out of This World : Convention of The Amalgamated Flying


318

Selected Bibliography

Saucer Clubs of Americ a." Newsweek, 7 November 1 966, pp. 3 8 , 40. "Pennington Airship. " Scientific A merican, 7 March 1 8 9 1 , p . 1 50. Powers, William T. "Letters." Science, 8 December 1 967, p. 1 265. Proceedings. Edited by Ge orge Van Tassel. Yucca Valley, Ca. : College of Universal Wisdom, 1 958-59. (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) "A Rash of Flyin g Disks Break Out Over the U.S." Life, 2 1 July 1 947, pp. 1 4- 1 6 . Rogers, Warren. "Flying Saucers : Sightings and Study o f UFOs." Look, 21 March 1 9 67, pp.7fH!O. Rosa, Richard J. "Lette rs ." Science, 8 December 1 967, p. 1 265. Ruppelt, Edward J. "What the Air Fo r ce Has Found Out About Flying Saucers." True Magazine, May 1 954. Reprinted in The TRUE Report on Flying Saucers. New York: Fawce tt, 1 967, pp.36-39, 57-7 1 . Sagan, Carl. ''The Saucerian Cult." Saturday R ev iew, 6 August . 19 66, pp.50-52. Saucer News. Edited by James Moseley. Fo rt Lee, NJ. : Saucer and Unexplained Celestial Events Research Society, 1 955-68 . (In the files o f the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizo na. ) Saucers. Edited by Max B. Miller. Lo s Angeles : Flying Saucers International, 1 9 53-60. ( In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Re s earch O rganization, Tucson, Arizona.) "The Saucers Again." American Aviation 11 (March 1 954) : 3 . "Saucers End : Condon Report." Time, 17 January 1 969, pp.44-45. Shallett, Sidney. ''What You Can Believe About Flying Saucers (Part 1) ." Saturday Evening Post, 30 April 1949, pp.20-2 1 , 1 3 6-39 . ---. "What You C an Believe About Flying Saucers (Part IT) ." Satu rday Evening Post, 7 May 1 949, pp.3 6, 1 84-86. "Shooting Down the UFOs : Condon Report." Newsweek, 20 Jan• uary 1 9 69, p.54. Skylook. Edited by Dwight Connelly. Quincy, ID. : Mutual UFO Network, 1 9 69-1 974. Sontag, Susan. ''The Imagination of Disaster." Against lnterpreta• tion. New York: Dell, Laurel ed., 1 9 69. The Spacecrafter. Phoenix, Ariz. : Spacecraft Research Associa· tion, 1960 ( At the Library of Congress. ) Telonic Research Bulletin . Edited by George Hunt Williamson. Pres cott, Ariz. : Tel on i c Research Center, 1 95 5 . (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Re s earch Organization, Tucson, Ari­ zona.) "Things That Go Whiz : Flying Sauce rs . " Time, 9 May 1 949,

pp.9 8-99. "Those Flying Saucers : An Astronomer's Explanation . " Time, 9 June 1 952, pp.54-56. Thy Kingdom Come. Edited by G abriel Green. Los Angeles:


I

Selected Bibliography

3 19

Amalg am ated Flying Sauce r Clubs of Ame ric a, 1 9 57-59. (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) "UFO, An App rais al of the Problem." Astronautics and A eronau­ tics 8 (November 1 970 ) : 49-5 1 . "UFO En coun ter I . " Astronautics and Aeronautics 9 (July 1 9 7 1 ) :

66-70. "UFO Encounter II." Astronautics and A erona u tics 9 (Sep te mb er 1 9 7 1 ) : 60-64. U.F.O. Investigator. Washington, D.C./Kensington, Md. : Na­ tional Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1 957-74. (NICAP moved to Kens ington in 1 9 73 . ) UFO Newsletter. Morristown, N.J . : New Jersey UFO Group, 1 957 (In the files of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organiza­ tion , Tucs on, Arizo na . ) UFORUM. Edited by Art Gib son , Bob Hillary, and Don Plank. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Flying Saucer Federation, 1 9 5 6-57 . (In the files of the Aerial Ph eno men a Research Organization, Tucson, Arizona. ) "UFO 's for Real? J. Allen Hynek Calls fo r Serious Investig ation." Newsweek, 10 O c tob e r 1 9 66, p.70. "UFOs Not From M ars ." Science News, 3 September 1 966, p . 1 65. "U.F.O.'s or Kugelblitz?" Popular Electronics, September 1 966, p.84. "UFOs Probably Exist." Industrial Research, April 1 9 7 1 , p.75. "UFO : Stardust and Mo onshin e ." Newsweek, 29 October 1 973, p.3 1 . "UFO Study Credibility Cloud." In dustria l Research, June 1 968, p.27. Vallee, Ja c ques. "Letters." Science, 8 December 1 967, p . 1 266. ---. "UFOs: The Psychic Co mpone nt. " Psychic, January­ February 1 974, pp. 1 3-17. "Visitors From Venus : Flying Saucer Yam." Time, 9 January 1 950, p.49. ''Waiting For the Little Green Men." Newsweek, 28 March 1 955, p.64. Warren, Donald I. ''Status Inconsistency Theory and Flying Sau­ cer Sightings." Science, 6 November 1 970, pp.599-604. "Washingto n's Blips." Life, 4 Au gust 1 9 52, p p . 3 9-40. "Well-Witnessed Invasion by Something : Aus tral ia to Michigan." Life, 1 April 1 966, pp.24-3 1 . "Wind Is Up in Kansas." Time, 8 September 1952, p.86.

J.;

I


� '-' .

",'

Index


Index Acuff, John, 253 Adamski, George, 9 6- 1 1 0 pas­ sim, 1 2 1 , 1 63, 179, 1 80, 259; books by, 9 6-97, 98, 1 03, 259 Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book, 176, 1 8083 passim; recommendations and conclusions of, 1 76-77 ; as part of Air Force policy, 177 Aerial Phenomena Research Or­ ganization (APRO ) , 74, 83, 109, 1 1 8, 1 32, 1 69, 170, 201, 209, 2 1 1 , 229-30, 248, 252, 253 ; conflict with NICAP, 1 62-6 3 ; and Condon commit­ tee, 205-6; and Condon re­ port, 2 1 7, 227-28 Agnew, Spiro, 229, 2 3 3 Air Defense Command : UF O detection plans, 59, 77, 1 45, 2 1 0, 226. See 4602d and 1 006th AISS Air Force, 3 0, 33, 35-3 8, 3 9-94 passim, 95, 1 05, 1 1 4, 1 1 5-39 passim, 1 47-70 passim, 1 7 67 7 , 1 82, 1 83, 1 84, 1 9 3 , 1 94, 198-99, 224, 249-5 1 , 2 65-69; and public relations, 86, 1202 1 , 122-23, 1 3 3 , 1 3 8, 1 40, 147-5 8 passim, 1 64, 1 65, 169-70, 176-77, 1 83, 224,

265-66, 268 ; and congression­ al inquiries/briefings, 1 4 1-43, 1 5 6, 1 6 1 , 1 69, 1 82-8 3 ; unoffi­ cial UFO panel, 148-49 ; staff studies, 1 44, 1 45-46, 149-5 1 ; and UFO program disband­ ment, 1 50, 1 5 1 , 1 52, 1 64-65, 1 66, 200, 2 1 5, 226-27 ; and university contract, 1 7 6-77, 1 82-86, 1 8 7 ; and conflict with McDonald, 1 9 5, 196; and transfer of UFO program, 1 8 8 ; fact sheeG, 1 3 7-3 8, 1 444 5 , 1 59, 1 8 1 , 1 82, 224 Air Force Letter 200-5, 60, 9 1 , 92 Air Force Office of Aerospace Research, 1 64, 1 96, 226 Air Force Office of Scientific Research, 1 8 3, 1 84, 206, 226 Air Force Regulation 80-17, 1 8 8, 225 Air Force Regulation 200-2, 9 1 , 1 1 9, 1 2 2 , 1 3 3 , 1 46, 1 8 8 Air Force Systems Command, 1 65, 1 88, 226 Air Materiel Command, 3 6-55 passim, 1 5 6 Air Research an d Development Command (ARDC), 150-5 1, 156

323


Index

324

Airships, history of, 25-28 mystery, 1896-97, 28,

Airships ,

33, 3 4, 35, 9 0, 1 54, 235, 237, 240, 243, 249, 257, 264; char­ acteristics of, 3-12; "Wilson" reports of, 9-1 1 ; hoaxes, 1214; photographs of, 1 6 ; reac­ tions to, 1 7-25, 28-29; expla­ nations of, 1 9 2 1, 24-26, 2728 -

Air Technical Intelligence Cen­ ter (ATIC ) , 5 5-65 passim,

68, 72, 76-8 1 passim, 92, 93, 1 1 8-49 passim, 1 54, 151, 1 6573 passim; and transfer of Blue Book, 149-5 1 , 1 64-66 ;

a nd

congress ional

151-58

hearings,

Alvarez, Luis, 80 American Association for the Advancement of Science (�S ) , 190, 206, 22 1, 22829; symposium on UFOs, 229,

255

American Institute of Aeronau­ tics and Astronautics (AIAA) : UFO subcommittee, 197, 228,

230, 25 1 American Society o f Newspaper Editors: UFO symposium,

195

Andrus, Walt, 253

Angelucci, Orfeo, 99-106 passim, 1 10 ; book by, 99 .A..P.R.O. Bulletin, The, 14, 253 Arcier, A. Francis, 128-29, 1 5 1 Armstrong, M ary Lou, 204, 205 Armstrong Circle Theater, 1 3 8,

152, 1 54

Arnold, Kenneth: UFO sighting by, 3 1-3 3, 1 67, 247 Asimov, Isaac, 191, 2SS

Battelle Memorial Institute, 63, 64, 76, 78-79, 8 1 , 93, 123, 124, 266; contract with Air Force, 58, 59. See Special Re­ port No. 14 Berkner, Lloyd, 80 Bethurum, Truman, 98-1 1 0 pas­ sim; book by, 98; in Condon report, 2 1 6 Blum, Ralph, 258, 262 Bowen, Charles, 201 Bower, Col. Donald, 59, 68 Brookings Institution, 1 64 Brooks, Rep. Overton, 159-60,

1 6 1 , 1 62 Brown, Harold, 1 80, 1 8 1-82, 206 Brown, T. Townshend, 129-30

Cabell, C. B., 56, 58, 59, 85 Cambridge Research Laborato-

ry, 47, 59 CaiT, Otis T., 106, 1 10 Carstarphen, Rep. John, 1 59 Center for UFO Studies, 252, 253, 270 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ) , 63, 78-80 passim, 93,

1 1 8, 142, 195, 258, 263, 268; and national security fears, 78, 79; and the Robertson panel, 79-80; and Ruppelt, 85-86; and 1959 UFO psy­ chic case, 153-54; briefings requested by, 156; and Robertson report, 1 89-90 Chanute, Octave, 19, 27

1 1

.rl

Chiles, Clarence S., and John B. Whitted UFO sighting, 40, 49, 90, 1 3 1 , 195 Chop, Albert M., 62-63, 66, 67,

68, 88, 89, 93, 122, 128, 1 3 1

Baker, Robert M. L, Jr., 207,

210, 220, 229

Craigie, Major General L 38

C..

II


Index

Christian Science Mo n ito r, 69,

72, 1 2 8 , 1 73 , 1 79, 1 94 Condon, Edward U., 1 84-85, 1 9 0, 1 99, 200, 20 1 , 202, 203, 206, 207, 2 1 3, 222, 224, 227, 229, 2 3 3 , 234, 255, 2 6 9 ; atti­ tude toward UFOs, 1 87-88, 201-2, 205, 2 1 3 ; and Low memorandum, 204, 205; and dismissal of Saunders and Le­ vine, 204, 205, 206; criticism of, 2 1 6-24 passim; and AAAS symposium, 228-29 Condon committee, 1 90, 1 9 1 , 198, 1 99, 2 1 1 , 2 1 2, 224, 225, 228, 2 3 3, 2 50, 25.1, 269; es­ tablishment of, 1 84-87, 190, 200; problems of, 200, 20 1-6 Condon report (Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Ob­ jects ) , 2 1 3-1 5 , 226, 227, 228, 254, 257 ; NAS review, 2 121 3 ; reactions to, 2 1 6-25 Considine, Bob, 53-54, 258 Contactees, 95-1 1 6 passim, 1 97, 198, 202, 205, 224, 228, 244, 261-62, 2 67-6 8 ; and flying saucer clubs, 108-9 ; and NI­ CAP, APRO, 1 09, 1 1 7, 1 6 3 ; followers of, 1 1 1- 1 3 ; confu­ sion of with UFO witne sse s, 1 1 5- 1 6 ; new, 260-6 1 Conte, Rep. Silvio, 232 Cook, Stuart, 1 85, 200 Crai g, Roy, 200, 204

Cummings, Lieutenant Jerry, 56

Darrach, Robert : 64,

H.

B.,

and

Ginna,

article by, 60, 6 1 , 62,

167

Day the Earth Stood 1 1 3 , 1 67 Dexter, Michigan,

177, 1 80

Still, The, sightin gs,

325

Diffraction grid camera plan, 59, 6 3 , 64, 7 6-77, 83, 86, 9394, 1 2 6-27 Drummond, Roscoe, 1 79, 256

Earth

Versus the

Flying Sau­

cers, 1 1 5 Edison, Thomas A., 20-2 1 , 90 Edwards, F rank, 1 3 1 , 259 ; books by, 1 9 7-9 8 Einstein, Albert, 7 1 , 80 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 1 22 Ellwood, Robert, 1 1 2- 1 3 "Estimate o f the Situation," 40, 4 1 , 1 2 1 , 1 3 8, 1 55 Evans, Col. Philip G., 1 5 1 , 1 58-

59, 1 65

Exeter, New Hamp shire,

UFO

sighting, 174, 1 80

Fahrney, Rear Admiral Delmer s., 1 2 9 , 1 30, 13 1 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI ) , 4 1 , 1 1 8, 1 3 3 Ferguson, Gen. James, 1 5 1 , 1 83, 1 88 Festinger, Leon : When Prophecy Fa ils, 1 1 3 "Flying Flapjack," 37, 53 Flying saucer: origin of term, 32 Flying saucer clubs/conventions, 1 06-7, 108-9, 1 1 0, 1 9 7 Flying Saucer Review, 270 Foo-:fighters, 3 0-3 1 , 3 6 Ford, G eral d R. : letter, 1 80-8 1 Foreign Technology Division

(FTD ) , 1 65, 1 88, 225 Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, UFO sighting of 1 9 5 1 , 55-5 6, 75 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron : assumes UFO in-


Index

326

vestigating duties, 87, 92; investigations systematized, 1 1 8--20 ; disbands, 1 3 3 . See

congressional 142-43

briefings

by,

1 006th AISS Fournet, Dewey, 59-60, 63, 65,

67, 69, 72, 76-89 passim, 93, 1 2 1 , 128, 1 3 1 , 155 French, Stuart, 1 56 Friedman, Stanton , 1 90, 207, 2 1 0, 2 1 7, 262 Fri end, Lt. Co l . Robert J., 1 1 1 , 148, 149, 1 53 , 1 57-58, 1 70; reorganizes Blue Book, 1 4 64 7 ; and congressional hear­ ings, 1 60-6 1 ; and Blue Book tran�e� 1 64, 1 6 5-66 Fry, Daniel, 99-1 1 0 passim, 260; book by, 99 Fuller, John, 1 74, 1 8 8--8 9, 2057, 259, 262; boo ks by, 1 8 889, 1 92, 1 9 8 Futch, M ax, 87

Gallup poll : 1 947, 3 5-3 6 ; 1950,

48; 1966, 1 77, 225, 263 ; 1973, 263-64 Garland, General W. C., 225 Garland, General William M., 80, 8 1 , 87, 93, 128 Geller, Uri, 260 Ghost rockets in Sweden, 3 1 , 36 Giant Rock Convention, 1 06, 1 80, 197 Gilligan, Governor John, 2 3 6 Godwin, John : Occult America, 1 12 Goldwater, Senator Barry, 144, 253 Goudsmit, Samuel A., 79-80, 82, 84 Green, Gabriel, 106-7 Greenwell, Richard, 2 1 1 , 228, 229-3 0, 25 3 Gregory,

Captain

George

T.,

126-28, 1 3 6, 1 37, 146, 1 47;

Hall, Richard, 1 6 3 ; briefs Con­ don committee, 1 92, 2 0 1 , 209; and UFO Evidence, 1 66 Hall, Robert L, 207, 209, 229 Handlin, Oscar, 1 88--8 9 Harder, James A., 207, 209-10, 248-49, 262 Hardin, Captain Charles, 1 1 8, 1 25-26 Harkins, R. Roger, 1 87-88 ; book by, 2 1 2 Hartmann , William K., 2 1 4, 229 Henderson, Garry, 207, 2 10, 2 1 1 Henderson, Rep. John E., 141, 1 44 Hill, B arney and Betty, 1 98, 262 Hillsdale, Michigan, UFO sight­ ings, 1 77, 1 7 8 Hines, Richard P., 1 56, 1 60-61 Hippler, U. Col. Robert, 1 83 , 1 84 Hoaglund, Hudson, 220-2 1 , 229 Homer, Richard, 1 4 1 , 1 44 Hynek, J. Alle n, 45, 46, 57, 7172, 74, 75, 77, 83-87 passim, 1 26, 1 27, 128, 1 3 6, 1 43, 1 45, 1 46, 147, 1 5 1 , 1 55, 1 57, 1 58, 1 60, 1 64, 1 69, 1 70, 1 75, 1 80, 1 83, 1 86, 1 92, 1 93, 1 99, 200, 201 , 205, 209, 2 1 1 , 225-34 passim, 248-49, 251-52, 256, 262, 263, 268, 269; astrono­ mers poll, 7 1-72 ; American Optical Society speech, 74, 75, 77; and Robertson panel, 80; and Blue Book methodology meeting, 1 47-48 ; an d unoffi­ cial UFO panel, 1 4 8 ; and "swamp gas," 1 7 8, 179; in , congressional hearings, 1 8 182, 207-08; in Science, 1 909 1 , 1 94; in Playboy, 194; in

,'


Index Saturday Evening Post, 1 8 6, 1 9 4 ; conflict 'with McDonald, 1 9 6-97 ; c riti que of Condon report, 2 1 8-20 ; critique of Air Force, 225-2 6 ; The UFO Ex­ perience, 23 3-34 ; and Center for UFO Studies, 252, 253, 270

327 congressional hearings, 1 6062 ; problems with N ICAP , 1 6 3 ; on radio and television , 1 74-7 5 ; and Condon commit­ tee, 1 86, 20 1 , 202, 205 ; reac­ tion to Condon report, 2 1 6, 2 1 7, 2 1 8 ; re s igns from NI­ CAP, 228, 25 3 ; A liens from Space, 25 S-59

Kingsley,

Invasion of the Saucer Men, 1 1 5

It Came From Outer Space, 1 14

JANAP 1 46 ( Joint Army-Navy­ Air Force Publication ) , 92,

Brig.

Gen.

Joseph,

1 5 6, 1 59 Klass, Philip , 2 1 3 , 2 3 1 , 255, 258, 262; book by, 1 9 2 ; plasma th eories , 1 9 2 ; conflict with McDonald, 1 9 5-96 Knight, Charlott e, 1 2 1 Kuettner, Joachim, 1 97, 230, 251

1 22

K aplan , Joseph, 59, 7 6

Kart h, Joseph, 1 60, 1 6 1-62 Kelly, General J oe, 1 3 3 , 140, 144 Kennedy, Senator Edward, 233 Keyhoe, Donald E., 49, 1 0 8 , 1 09-1 0, 1 1 5, 1 2 1-29 p assim , 1 3 3 , 1 39, 1 42, 145, 1 52-5 3 , 1 54, 1 5 8-59, 1 6 1 , 1 63-64, 1 65, 1 69, 170, 1 8 0, 1 8 1 , 1 95205 passim, 2 1 3 , 2 1 6, 222, 223, 268, 269; in True, 49-50, 6 1 ; The Flying Saucers A re Real, 5 1-52; on Air For ce se­ crecy, 5 1 , 52, 88-89, 1 1 7, 1 1 8, 1 32, 133, 1 52-53 , 1 60, 268 ;

Flying Saucers from Outer Space, 87, 88, 9 1 , 1 1 5, 1 22 ; and contactees, 1 09-1 0, 1 1 5, 1 6 3 ; Flying Saucer Conspir­ acy, 122, 1 25, 1 3 3 ; in forma­ tion of NICAP, 129-3 2 ; on A rmstrong Circle Theater, 1 3 8 ; Flying Saucers: Top Se­ cret, 1 5 2 ; efforts to obtain

Lear, John, 1 8 6, 1 89 LeBailley, General E. B., 1 5 6, 175-76, 1 8 1

Leonard, Jonathan N., 1 25-26 Levelland, Texas, UFO sight­ ings, 1 3 4-35, 1 3 6-37, 1 5 6, 218

Levine, Norman, 204, 205, 206, 211, 212

Levitt, I . M., 7 1 , 173 Liddel, Umer, 74-75

Life magazine, 3 5 , 60-62, 65,

70, 1 67, 1 78-79, 257 Lilienthal, David, 37 Lipp, James E., 42 Loch Ness monster, 3 5 , 62, 69, 20 1 , 256 Look magazine, 64, 65, 73, 88, 122, 1 67, 1 74, 1 8 8, 1 9 8, 2056, 2 1 3 , 257

Lorenzen,

James

and

Coral,

1 09-1 0, 1 1 8, 1 3 0, 1 32, 1 62, 1 63 , 1 9 8, 227, 229, 230, 253 ; and formation of APRO, 74; and contactees, 1 09 ; and con­ flict with NICAP, 1 62-63 ;


328

Index

books by, 1 9 8 ; criticism of Condon report, 2 1 7 Low, Robert T., 1 85, 1 87, 200-7 passim, 2 1 3 ; memorandum of, 202-5, 206, 2 1 3 Luebman, Amo H., 1 4 1 , 1 5 6,

157

McClellan, Senator John, 1 4 1 , 1 44 McCormack, Rep. John, 142, 144, 1 59, 1 60 McDivitt, I ames A., 262 McDonald, James E., 1 8 9-90, 194-95, 1 99, 204, 207, 2089, 220, 227, 229, 2 3 3 , 234, 269 ; conflict with Menzel and Klass, 1 9 5-96 ; conflict with Hynek, 1 9 6-9 7 ; letter to Low, 204, 205; criticism of Condon report, 2 1 6-1 8 ; at ssr hear­ ings, 23 1-3 2 ; effect on UFO research, 232-3 3 ; death of, 232 McLaughlin, Comm. R. B., 50, 131 McMinnville, Oregon, UFO case, 2 1 4 McNamara, Robert, 1 82 Mantell, Thomas : UFO sight­ ing, 3 8-3 9, 46, 49-67, 90, 128, 1 75, 1 9 5 Mariana, Nicholas : UFO film , 80, 82, 1 2 8, 202, 2 1 0 Markowitz, William : in Science, 1 92-93 Maury Island hoax, 3 3 Menger, Howard, 100-7 passim, 109, 1 1 0, 202; book by, 1 00, 1 04, 259 Men In Black, 109 Menzel, Donald, 63 , 68 , 70, 7 1 , 73 , 7 5 , 7 6 , 1 2 1 , 1 22, 1 3 7 , 1 42, 1 70, 1 80, 1 8 3 , 1 97, 2 1 0, 2 1 1 , . 229, 255, 2 5 8 ; American Op-

tical Society paper, 74, 75;

Flying Saucers, 89-9 1 ; World of Flying Saucers, 1 66-67 ; conflict with McDonald, 1 9 5 Michel, Aime, 2 0 1 , 259; book by, 259 Miller, Rep. George P., 1 62 Mille� Max, 1 09, 124-25, 1 3 3 Moseley, James, 1 09, 1 17-1 8 , 1 63 Moskin, I. Robert: in Look, 6465, 1 67 Motion pictures, 1 1 3-15, 12829, 1 50 Mutual ( Midwest ) UFO Net­ work (MUFON ) , 228, 230, 252, 253

'I

r

t

I National Academy of Sciences, 1 8 3 , 1 94, 2 1 6, 2 1 8, 227, 229, 23 1 , 254, 255 ; reviews of Condon report, 2 1 2- 1 3 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 1 64, 1 65, 1 69, 22 1 , 232 National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1 84 National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP ) , 1 1 7, 1 29-4 1 passim, 1 45, 1 52, 1 54, 1 5 8-59, 1 63 , 1 64, 1 65, 1 66, 1 69-75 passim, 1 8 1 , 1 86, 1 92, 1 97, 20 1 , 2o4, 205, 209, 2 1 3, 2 1 617, 222, 223 , 227, 230, 235, 244, 252, 268 ; formativn of, 1 29-3 2 ; Board of Governors ( 1 9 57), 1 30-3 1 ; and congressional hearings, 1 60-6 1 , 1 62 ; UFO Evidence, 1 66 ; effect of Condon report on, 227-28; reorganization of, 228, 253 National Science Foundation, 1 64, 1 65 Nebel, "Long" John, 1 07-1 10

i

�I 1

'

I !

l

� 1

·.J


,

Index Nelson, Buck, 106, 1 07 Newhouse, Commander Delbert C. : UFO film, 80, 8 1 , 8 6, 128, 1 3 1 , 210

News media. See Press New York Times, 35, 53, 62, 69, 72, 122, 1 3 6, 1 37, 179, 1 8 8, 197, 2 1 2, 222, 227 Nixon, Richard, 1 85 Nixon, Stuart, 227, 228, 230, 253

O'Brien, B rian , 176, 1 8 3 O'Brien panel. See A d Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book

Ohio Northern University, 73, 74, 93

Ohio State University: UFO questionnaire, 5 8, 59, 76 1006th Air Intelligence S ervice Squadron (AISS) , 13 3 , 134, 136

Page, Thornton, 80, 82, 84, 228, 229, 255

Pascagoula, Mississippi, UFO case, 247-49, 255, 258, 262 Pennington, Edward J., 27 Plasma theory, 1 92

Powers, William T., 193, 23 1 Press, the, 52-53, 54, 64, 65, 67-

68, 70, 121-22, 205-6, 207; on airship repo rts, 21-25; on 1947 UFO wave, 32-33, 34, 35; on 1950 UFO wave, 5254; on 1952 UFO wave, 6970; criticism of Air Force, 17 1-73, 1 8 1 ; on "swamp gas," 179-80; on Condon com­ mittee, 1 85-86, 1 87; on Con­ don report, 222-24; on 197374 UFO wave, 255-57

329

Price, William T., 1 84 Price-Williams, Douglass, 229, 23 1 Project Blue Book, 1 2 6,

127, 141, 142, 143, 1 54, 156, 157, 158, 2 1 5, 263 ; formation of, 59; and 1952 UFO wave, 65, 68, 75, 76-77; policy follow­ ing Robertson report. 86-87, 88, 92, 93 ; under Gregory, 127-28; under Friend, 14647; staff studies , 144, 145-46, 149-50; under Quintanilla, 1 65-66; reviewed by O'Brien p anel. 176, 177; transferred, 1 8 8 ; annual reports, 224-25;

image of, 225-26; termination of, 227, 228, 269 Project Grudge, 47, 54, 51, 58, 59, 83, 84, 85, 142; formation of, 43-44 ; under Ruppelt, 5658 Project Grudge report, 45-47, 48, 1 14; conclusions and recommendations of, 46-47 ; public relations aspects of, 47;

comparison with Project Sign report, 48; effects of, 48-49 Project Saucer, 38. See Project Sign Project Sign, 3 8-44, 265; forma­ tion of, 3 7-3 8 ; extraterrestrial hypothesis in, 39-40, 41 ; "Es­ timate of the Situation," 4041, 12 1 ; attitude change in, 43

Project Sign report, 40-43 ; com­ parison with Grudge report, 48; comparison with Robert­ son report, 84-85 Project Twinkle, 47-48, 8 1 , 168

Quintanilla, Major Hector, 176, 178, 1 8 1 , 1 82, 193, 195-20 1

passim, 2 63 ; as head of B lue Book, 1 65-66


Index

3 30

Ramey, Major General Roger A., 68, 72 Ratchford, Thomas J. ' 1 84-85 • 206 Red Planet Mars, 1 14 Ridicule, 53, 57-5 8, 62, 15, 1 3 0, 2 6 9 ; in 1 89 6-97 wave 1 8-19 264; in 1 947 wave, 3 33; 1 952 wave, 66, 7 1 ; and con­ tactees, 95, 1 1 0-1 1 , 2 67 ; and 4602d, 120; and "swamp gas," 1 7 8-79 ; after Condon report, 23 1 ; of McDonald, 23 1 , 2323 3 ; and 1 973 wave, 247, 249, 250, 256-5 7 ; and scientists, 252, 267; and the press ' 2 6 1 , 2 62 Rivers, Rep. L. Mendel, 1 8 1 Roach, Franklin, 1 85 ' 200' 2 1 4, 229 Roberts, Walter Orr, 1 84, 229 Robertson, H. P., 79 ' 80 ' 8 1 , 84-85 Robertson panel, 7 8-94 passim, 1 2 1 , 143, 1 45, 1 5 3 , 255, 258 265, 266; formation of, 79 8 0 ; members of, 79-80 Robertson report: conclusions of, 8 1 -83 ; recommendations of, 83-84, 85-86, 1 1 8, 1 47, 155, 1 64, 268; effect on Air Force of, 84-85, 93, 1 52-53, 1 59 ; and the CIA, 1 89-9 0 ; and J am es McDonald, 1 8990, 195 Rosengarten, Lt. Col . N. R., 5 6 Roush, Rep. J. Edward, 207 ' 262 Ruppelt, Edward J., 3 6-45 pas­ sim, 55, 63, 67-69, 76, 86, 87, 93, 1 1 1, 1 1 8, 125, 128, 142, 1 45, 146, 1 5 5 ; Report on

2-

u;

.:_

Unidentified Flying Objects, 3 6, 1 25 ; on Project Grudge report, 4 8 ; problem of obtain­ ing UFO reports, 5 5-5 8 ; on Fort Monmouth sighting, 5 6 ;

as head o f Project Grudge, 5 6 ; and reorganization of Project Grudge, 5 6-51, 5 860; and Robertson panel, 80, 8 1 , 85-86, 1 89 ; on Special Re­ port 1 4, 1 24-25 Rutledge, Harley D., 2 5 1 , 256 Ryan, Rep. William F., 221-22

l

j

1

Sagan, Cui, 176, ! 80, 1 9>-94, 207, 209, 228, 229, 250, 255, ,I . 262 Salisbury, Frank, 1 73-74, 190, 207, 2 1 0-1 1 Samford, General John A., 6 3 , 78, 142-4 3 ; press conference by, 68-:-70, 72, 76, 88, 1 28 Saucers magazine, 1 0 8, 1 09 Saunders, David R., 1 8 3 , 1 84, 200-6 passim, 2 1 6; dismissal from Condon committee, 204, 205, 206, 2 1 1 ; book by, 2 1 2 , Science, 70, 206, 207, 23 1 , 234· 1 Hynek in, 1 9 0-9 1 , 194; Mark: •d owitz in, 1 92-9 3 ; on Condon report, 223 Scientists, 233, 250-5 1, 252 264-70 passim; and myste airships, 19-2 1 ; and 1947 ,I UFO wave, 34-3 5 ; and 1950 ,1 UFO wave, 53-54; and 1952 · UFO wave, 70-7 1 ; and 1 9 65 , UFO wave, 173-74; and 1966 1 UFO wave, 1 9 1-95, 1 9 8-99 ; ' and Condon report, 2 1 9-22; and 1 973-74 UFO wave, 1 253-5 6 l Scully, Frank : book by, 50-5 1 , . I

1

.j

j

J 1

:

52, 108 Secretary of the Air Force · Office of Legislative Liaison · (SAFLL) , 1 3 3, 1 40, 144, 1 5 6, 1 57, 1 6 9 ; and Smart's recom- , mendati<>M, ! 5 8 ; effo m to

1

I


Index stop congressional hearings, 1 60, 1 64 Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Information (SAF­ OI) , 63, 93, 1 1 1 , 128, 1 32, 1 3 3 , 1 3 7, 142, 1 5 1 , 1 5 6, 1 69, 175, 1 80, 1 8 3 ; Office of Infor­ mation Services, 148, 1 50; at­ titude toward McDonald of, 195, 1 9 6 ; decis ion to store B lue Book records, 226-27 Shallett, Sidney: in Saturday Evening Post, 44-45 Shea, David, 206, 226 Shepard, Roger N., 207, 2 1 0, 211 Sietz, Frederick, 2 1 2 · Sleeper, Colonel Raymond S., 225 Smart, Rep. Richard, 1 56, 1 57, 158 Smith, Wilbert B . , 1 3 1 , 1 5 3 Socorro, New Mexico, UFO sighting. See Lonnie Zamora Spaulding, Colonel J. F., 175 Special Report No. 14, 123, 1 24, 125, 1 26, 1 27, 129, 140, 142, 143. See also Battelle Me­ morial Institute Spencer, John Wallace, 260, 262 Sprinkle, Leo, 1 90, 207, 2 1 0, 211 Sputnik, 1 3 8, 141 Stanford, Ray, 260-6 1 Stevens, A. Leo, 27 Stre ntz, Herbert, 178 Sullivan, Walte r, 229, 256; and Condon report, 2 1 2- 1 3 , 222 " Swamp gas," 178-79, 1 87, 1 90, 268

Tacker, Major Lawrence, 1 3 8, 142, 1 55-56, 1 80 ; book by, 1 54-56

33 1

Television : and contactees, 1 078 ; and 1 9 65-67 UFO wave, 174-75, 179-80, 1 9 1 ; CBS news show, 179-8 0 ; and 1973-74 UFO wave, 26 1-63 Thayer, Gordon, 214 The Thing, 1 14 This Island Earth, 1 14 Truman, Harry S, 53, 67-68 · Twining, Lieutenant General Nathan F., 3 7-3 8, 1 2 1 , 1 3 8, 155

U-2 incident, 1 5 9 "UFOB Guide ," 1 1 8, 1 1 9-20 UFO Investigator (NICAP) , 1 32, 2 1 7 UFO Newsletter, 1 09 UFOs, 1 27-29 . UFO wave of 1947, 3 1-37, 1 54, 235, 249, 264; scientists' ex­ planations of, 33-3 6 ; press responses to, 32-3 3, 34, 35, 256 UFO wave of 1950, 52-53 UFO wave of 1952, 55, 63-77, 1 53 , 1 54, 235, 249; extrater­ restrial theory of, 63 ; and news media, 69-70, 7 3 ; effect on military of, 72-7 3 ; fears for national security in, 77 UFO wave of 1957, 134-37, 1 3 8, 235 UFO wave of 1965-67, 1 7 1 , 173, 1 74-75, 1 77, 1 9 8, 235, 256; press response to, 17173 ; scientists' attitudes about, 1 73-74; books as result of, 197-98 UFO wave of 1973-74, 235-49, 262, 263 ; long-distance night sightings in, 23 6-37; low-level sightings in, 237-3 9 ; car-chas­ ing incidents in, 239-40 ; elec­ trical-mechanical effects re-


Index

332

parted in, 240; effects on ani­ mals reported in 240-4 1 · physical effects re rted 241 :42 ; mental effects report­ ed m, 242--43 ; landing and trace cases in, 243--44 ; occu­ pant reports in, 244--49 ; Pas­ cagoula case, 247--49; distinc­ tive features of, 249, 254; and the Air Force, 249-5 1 ; and the urge to explain, 254-55; press responses to , 255-58 ; effect on television of, 26 1-63 University of Colorado, 1 84,

;x,

in:

1 85, 1 87, 1 99, 203, 206

Subcommittee on Govern­ ment Operations, 141, 144

Vallee, Jacques, 1 90, 193, 198, 201, 205; books by, 1 9 8 Vandenberg, Gen. Hoyt S., 40,

64, 72, 78

Van Tassel, George, 1 0 1 , 106,

.

1 07, 108, 1 09-1 0, 1 80, 197 Verne, Jules, 24 Vivian, Weston E., 1 80 Von Diiniken, Erich, 259-60• 262

,

·�

Unofficial UFO panel, 148--49,

1 55

Urge to explain, 34, 70, 1 9 1 ,

254-55 U.S. Congress : briefings and in­ quiries on UFOs, 141--42, 1 5 6-60 passim, 1 66, 1 69, 1 82-83 U.S. Congress, House : Commit· tee on Appropriations, 23 1 32; Committee on Armed Services, 1 56, 1 57, 1 8 0-83, 207, 22 1 ; Committee on For­ eign Affairs, 1 82 ; Committee -

on Science and Astronautics,

1 56, 157, 159, 1 60, 207-1 1 , 22 1 ; Committee on Un-Amer· ican Activities, 1 85, 223 ; Sub­ committee on Atmospheric Phenomena, 1 42--44; Subcom­

mittee on Government Infor­ mation, 126 U.S. Congress, Senate : Com­ mittee on Preparedness, 156;

; ,

' I I)

War of the Worlds, The, 1 1 4 Washington, D.C., UFO sight· � ings, '65-67, 68, 69, 70, 128, 195, 209, 247; effect on press o f, 67-69 Watson, General Harold E., 53 Welles, Orson : "War of the Worlds" broadcast, 49, 84,

·J

9 1 , 1 87-88

Wells, H. G. : ''Th.e Crystal Egg," 24 Wheeler, General Earle, 1 82-83 Willi amson, George Hunt, 106,

1 14

Wynn,

1 65

Colonel

Edward, 161,

Zamora, Lonnie : UFO sighting in Socorro, New Mexico, 1 67-68, 1 90, 1 95, 244, 25 9;

effects of, 1 68-69

I

I

J

,,

I ..


About the Author The UFO Controversy in America is part of Dr.

Jacob's long interest in and study of UFOs. He has

written numerous

articles, reviews,

and

papers on them. He has conducted courses on "UFOs in American Society" and was technical consultant for the television program "UFOs : Past, Jacobs

Present, is

and

currently

Future."

David Michael

Assistant

Professor

at

Temple University. His specialty is 20th Cen­

tury American History. He has a B .A. from U.C.L.A. and an M�A. University of Wisconsin.

,, ' ', '-

and Ph.D. from the


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